The US primary healthcare system is facing a number of known challenges, including a shortage of healthcare workers, the high cost of care, and overall inefficiencies. To mitigate these obstacles to care, the industry must look to innovate and automate.
The United States spends more on healthcare per person than any other developed country1. Despite this, it’s a country that scores poorly on many key health measures, including life expectancy, preventable hospital admissions, suicide, and maternal mortality2. And for all that expense, satisfaction with the current healthcare system is low.
But the problems don’t stop there. Healthcare providers also struggle to cope with rising costs, inefficient processes, and staff shortages for many clinical roles3, underscoring the urgent need for a transformation within the sector.
Innovation and automation have emerged as key drivers in reshaping the future of U.S. healthcare.
Automation offers better support for healthcare providers
Whether it’s an admission to a hospital or a prescription for a drug, everything in the healthcare economy starts with a provider’s decision. But process inefficiencies, administrative burdens, and rising patient expectations have taken a toll on healthcare professionals. They’re struggling to keep up, resulting in workforce burnout and staff shortages4.
From intelligent automation to artificial intelligence (AI), these technologies are already demonstrating their potential to enhance patient care, optimize medical processes and alleviate the strain on the workforce.
One of the significant advantages automation offers is its ability to tackle administrative overload.
Improving operational efficiency in healthcare scheduling
For each hour of clinical face time that physicians spend with patients, an additional two are consumed by administrative and clerical work5. Moreover, scheduling doctors’ appointments or procedures often happens over the phone and can be a time-consuming task for staff. It often requires manual labor, including gathering documentation, verifying insurance coverage, collecting payments and managing schedules. It wastes valuable time and resources.
By automating the process with a technology like robotic process automation (RPA), however, it becomes easier for patients to book appointments and reduces the workload of staff, giving them time to focus on patients instead, eliminating delays in treatments.
Combine this with conversational AI automation that uses natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to understand and interact with patients in a manner that mimics human interaction, and it becomes a way to engage further with patients, resulting in better care and experience.
Automating patient reminder systems
Past studies have indicated that as many as 30% of appointments are not met, costing providers nearly $150 billion6. However, automated patient reminders not only provide help to patients but also can be used to significantly reduce the issue of missed appointments for healthcare providers.
Rather than relying solely on phone call reminders that take time out of an employee’s day, automated notifications efficiently remind patients of upcoming appointments, update patient information and facilitate easy cancellations when necessary.
What’s more, the likes of conversational AI can also understand and respond to increasingly complex queries, making it an effective tool in healthcare settings. This streamlines patient communication and improves appointment management further for staff.
Automating to reduce errors
Automation can also be used to streamline other processes, like health insurance eligibility verification or submission of insurance claims. It can also reduce errors, accelerate patient access and ensure a seamless experience for all.
But the most impressive application of automation comes when combining it with other technologies, such as computer vision, ML and other smart processes. Healthcare providers can use it to support AI-driven medical diagnosis7.
For example, an individual schedules diagnostic imaging such as an MRI or mammogram. Computer vision and ML analyze the scans to identify a medical condition, before the automated workflow then assigns the case based on specialization, department, capacity, and other factors.
Doctors can then check the scans using AI, cross-referencing medical history and lab results, empowering them to make more accurate diagnoses and personalized treatment recommendations, therefore, reducing the risk of a misdiagnosis or making an error.
Using data the right way
The healthcare sector accounts for 30% of the world’s data volume and it’s projected to reach 36% by 2025, outpacing other sectors like financial services or media and entertainment8.
Yet, this large volume of patient data is not being used effectively. Integrating low-code business automation that combines RPA, AI/ML and UiPath’s Document Understanding helps bridge data gaps, and collects and interprets information, providing actionable insights for healthcare professionals.
It can then lead to more personalized and quicker delivery of care while maintaining compliance.
Using automation to reduce patient costs
As healthcare providers implement more efficient processes for administrative tasks like claims processing or patient record management through automation, they free up staff time and facilitate better resource allocation, resulting in lower administrative costs. The savings can then be passed on to patients in the form of lower healthcare costs. These reduced costs will help alleviate the financial burden that currently impacts U.S. healthcare patients.
But the cost benefits don’t stop there.
Using ai-powered automated systems to help identify and address potential health concerns through early disease detection offers patients early treatment too, thereby slowing or stopping disease progression. It also reduces the need for costly interventions, like emergency room visits or hospital stays later down the line; once again, saving everyone time and money.
Providing better patient experiences
Beyond direct cost savings, automation empowers patients with quicker and more efficient access to care, through solutions such as chatbots, automated workflows and automated emails, allowing 24/7 support. In fact, more than 50% of healthcare professionals believe that chatbots help to improve patient access and timeline to care9.
Automation can be used to reduce the amount of time it takes to process a physician referral or submit and track a prior authorization for care. It can also be used to streamline billing processes, allowing patients to manage their accounts and payments independently, reducing frustrations and leading to greater satisfaction and patient loyalty.
Streamlining discharge procedures
Automation in healthcare offers the advantage of seamless discharge procedures for patients leaving the hospital, too. When patients are discharged from the hospital, they’re usually on their own to remember and follow any instructions they’ve been given.
Clinicians can use automation to follow up with patients, providing timely reminders of important guidelines, upcoming appointments or tests. Patients can easily review their instructions without burdening staff, while also gaining access to the information they need.
Enhancing quality and consistency of care
With immunity to human errors, fatigue or distractions, automation can improve the quality of care. Take automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs), for example. They enhance patient safety by ensuring accurate medication administration and reducing the risk of errors in dosage and timing10.
Nurses can use ADCs to verify patient identities and cross-reference prescriptions with medical records, dispensing the right dosage of medication to the right individual. They can be used to reduce the likelihood of consequences stemming from human error, leading to improved patient care and safety.
Automating the right way
While automation may not solve the challenges facing the US healthcare system overnight, it’s an industry that will benefit from it significantly.
Whether your organization is a public or private healthcare provider, Tquila Automation can help your business create an entire roadmap for your automation vision and offer a suite of solutions that sync with your needs.
Upholding the UiPath standards and access to a suite of automation solutions, Tquila has the tools to help streamline your operations from beginning to end, helping patients and healthcare professionals.
Schedule a free consultation with our experts today.
- PGP Foundation, how does the US healthcare system compare to other countries? ↩︎
- Harvard Medical School, Is our healthcare system broken?
- CNN Health, Concern grows around US health-care workforce shortage: ‘We don’t have enough doctors’
- Forbes, Can We Avoid The Impending Healthcare Workforce Labor Shortage? ↩︎
- National Library of Medicine, Burnout in United States Healthcare Professionals: A Narrative Review ↩︎
- Healthcare Innovation, Missed appointments cost the U.S. healthcare system $150B each year ↩︎
- Acceleration Economy, How AI and Automation Enhance Healthcare, From Medical Diagnosis to Supply Chains ↩︎
- RBC Capital Markets, The healthcare data explosion ↩︎
- National Center for Biotechnology Information, Physicians’ Perceptions of Chatbots in Health Care: Cross-Sectional Web-Based Survey ↩︎
- National Center for Biotechnology Information, Safeguards for using and designing automated dispensing cabinets ↩︎