It is no surprise that three out of four healthcare CEOs cite overall cost reduction and efficiency as their top two financial priorities. With the healthcare industry continually looking to cut costs and waste and improve efficiency and throughput, automation of manual tasks is imperative for strategic performance improvement.
Automation is defined as the use of control systems and information technologies to reduce the need for human work in the production of goods and services. The introduction of the assembly line at Ford Motor Company in 1913 is often cited as one of the first forms of automation. With this innovation Ford achieved a dramatic reduction in the time to produce a car from 12 hours down to 1.5 hours!
Today, automation is a key asset to our every day lives, including ATMs, self-checkout at the grocery store, auto park assist in vehicles, and many more routine activities involving automated technology.
The heightened demand to reduce costs and eliminate waste in healthcare has brought the adoption of automation to the spotlight. With an exponential aging population, along with more people in the healthcare system, the market will require more care, and the influx of patient volumes cannot be managed with the current staffing levels. A shortage of this magnitude would be twice as large as any nursing shortage experienced in this country since the mid-1960s. The looming shortage demands efficiency and the elimination of redundant work and manual tasks.
Healthcare is an inflationary model, but it’s intensified by the fact that everyone wants to hire more bodies rather than think about how they can get a job done faster, more efficiently and most often more accurately through automated technology. The challenge in healthcare has always been captivating people and urging them to look at things innovatively by using technology.
This is no longer an option. Automation is now a “must have,” for any organization, in any industry, to thrive…especially healthcare. There are not enough providers to continuously monitor large patient populations for the model of care where clinical outcomes will set your organization apart from the unsuccessful.
Below are the three big benefits that are achieved by applying automation to healthcare:
1. Improved Quality and Consistency
Automation tools eliminate issues stemming from human error or fatigue, so they can help provide a consistency for healthcare providers and patients. Increased automation in the areas of medical records, order entry, and decision support appeared to result in an increase in patient outcomes, patient readmission rates and overall costs.
2. Reduced Waste
Lack of automation typically means the use of paper. The use of paper typically leads to a lot of waste, both literally and figuratively. In many situations, time is waste. For example, rather than wasting time playing phone tag with a discharged patient in the free minutes between hospital nursing duties, automation can help get nurses and patients connected more efficiently. Cost is another area where waste is very prevalent. As much as three-quarters of administrative costs go to deployment, monitoring, updating, and troubleshooting information technology. That’s because so many IT processes are manual, tedious, and error prone. Wouldn’t you prefer to spend your limited funding on strategic business initiatives that can propel your business forward? Automation services provide a platform for advancing your technology operations and overall business objectives.
3. Real-Time & Transparent Data
Technology used to automate processes delivers insight into data that can be used for performance improvement and operational optimization. Automated technology can collect data to generate real-time reports and provide true, immediate insights into the success or challenges of an organization, as well as provide an accurate snapshot of operational programs to measure the level of involvement needed to become even more efficient, more accurate and more helpful.
Areas to apply automation in your healthcare environment require a standardized, repeatable process and is the first thing to look for when thinking of automated technology. Bottom line…in a healthcare setting, put yourself in the patient’s shoes, and then ask yourself this question: Would you rather be a patient at a facility that operates on manual processes and paper, or would you rather be a patient at a facility that has implemented automated technology to remove possible human error and fatigue?
Authored by: Frank Avignone, Practice Leader, Healthcare for GuideIT