31 Oct Automation in Healthcare Industry – Impact, Future, Examples & Benefits
This is not an overstatement that automation in healthcare is rapidly becoming omnipresent. It benefits industries and consumers through enhanced efficiency and cost savings. For instance, popular streaming services and social media platforms leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to curate personalized content. Vehicles are also equipped with safety features designed to prevent collisions.
While healthcare providers initially hesitated to automate processes, believing the human touch was indispensable, this perception has slowly evolved. Healthcare systems and institutions are now embracing automation to reduce diagnostic errors, cut costs, boost productivity and collaboration, enhance patient data security, and elevate both clinician and patient satisfaction.
At present, automation in healthcare industry extends from back-office administrative tasks to frontline healthcare delivery, yielding improved operational efficiencies, cost reduction, streamlined data sharing, and optimized operations.
Now, let us focus more on the far-reaching impacts and types of automation in healthcare and their outcomes.
Impact of Automation in Healthcare
The impact of automation in healthcare transcends borders, benefiting both developed and developing nations.
In developed countries, it bolsters patient safety by curbing medical errors. On the other hand, in developing countries, automation bridges healthcare access gaps. In India, the scarcity of qualified healthcare professionals often hinders rural residents from receiving effective and critical healthcare. The lack of human resources also affects service delivery and patient satisfaction, including a lengthy patient turnaround time (PTAT).
In this scenario, telemedicine emerges as has emerged as a game-changer. It harnesses telecommunications and information technologies to offer remote clinical services. As a result, rural residents can now consult urban doctors, significantly enhancing healthcare accessibility in India, with a promising future.
Future of Automation in Healthcare
Simply put, the future of automation in healthcare promises to be massively transformative. As technology continues to advance, automation is set to play a pivotal role in bringing holistic changes to the existing healthcare systems.
For example, robotics could take over routine, time-consuming manual tasks, freeing up healthcare professionals to focus on complex medical decisions and providing a human touch in care.
Also, the rapid adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will aid in accurate diagnosis, prognostics, treatment planning, and prediction of disease outbreaks, making healthcare more precise and, at the same time, more personalized. Moreover, telemedicine and remote monitoring will become the norm, providing patients access to healthcare regardless of location.
Automation will ensure better data management and robust security, enabling seamless sharing of patient information among healthcare providers while maintaining privacy.
Although there are several challenges, such as ensuring ethical AI use and addressing workforce shifts. Despite that, the future of automation in healthcare undoubtedly holds great promise for an industry that is constantly evolving.
Types of Automation in Healthcare Industry
In the ever-evolving healthcare landscape, automation is critical in streamlining processes and enhancing patient care. Here are three major types of automation in healthcare industry.
1. Fixed automation
Fixed automation, often called “rigid automation,” pertains to an automated healthcare setting where the equipment configuration firmly establishes the predetermined sequence of tasks. Essentially, the instructions for operation are embedded within the machinery in the form of mechanical components, electrical circuits, and other hardware that is not readily adaptable for transitioning from one medical procedure to another.
This type of automation typically involves a substantial initial investment and is characterized by high throughput rates. Consequently, it is most suitable for healthcare processes that are performed on a large scale. Notable examples of fixed automation in healthcare include robotic surgical systems designed for specific procedures, automated pharmaceutical manufacturing lines, and specialized diagnostic equipment.
2. Programmable automation
Programmable automation serves as a method for producing medical products in discrete batches. These batches typically range from several dozen to several thousand units per run. With each new batch, the production equipment necessitates reprogramming and adjustments to accommodate the specific requirements of the new product style.
This reprogramming and adjustment process requires a certain amount of time and results in a nonproductive period before commencing production for the new batch. The production rates in programmable automation are typically lower than those in fixed automation. This is because the focus remains on facilitating the adaptation of equipment to various product specifications rather than specialization.
An example of programmable automation in healthcare is a computerized numerical-control machine tool, where the requisite program is stored in computer memory for each distinct product style, and this computer program governs the machine tool’s operations. Industrial robots also exemplify this approach within the healthcare sector.
3. Flexible automation
Flexible automation represents an extension of the programmable automation concept. The challenge associated with programmable automation lies in the time required to reprogram and adapt the production equipment for each new product batch, resulting in costly production downtime.
Flexible automation addresses this issue by restricting the range of product variations enabling rapid and automatic equipment changeovers. In flexible automation, the reprogramming of equipment is conducted offline, meaning it takes place at a computer terminal separate from the production equipment itself.
Consequently, there is no need to organize identical medical products into discrete batches; instead, a diverse array of different healthcare products can be manufactured consecutively without delay.
Key Areas Where Healthcare Automation Plays a Critical Role
Automation methods in healthcare, including AI, can potentially change several fields with positive outcomes. Furthermore, integrating innovative technologies such as digital engagement tools and low-code/no-code development platforms can optimize essential procedures and promote intelligent workflows.
Here are a few areas that can be evolved with automation:
1. Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) and Claims Denial
Healthcare providers in Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) grapple with obstacles like outdated systems and complex workflows, resulting in unnecessary claim rejections. Around 79% of RCM departments still use non-integrated technologies, leading to a 20% denial rate due to authorization and charge capture issues. To address these challenges, healthcare organizations are increasingly leveraging automation, including RPA and AI, to streamline RCM processes, improve the patient experience, and cut costs.
2. Support Center
Positive patient experience is pivotal in healthcare, with support centers playing a crucial role. These centers handle a significant part of patient interactions and can be automated to deliver personalized care and multi-channel support. Automation can be deployed in a wide array of tasks, such as appointment scheduling, omnichannel communication, AI-driven chatbot support, data management, and report generation. This streamlines processes, freeing staff for patient-centered initiatives and enhancing the overall experience.
3. Clinical workflow automaton
Clinical workflow automation streamlines operations by handling repetitive and complex tasks, including inventory management, client billing, and IT processes in healthcare. This transformation yields multiple benefits. For instance, it mitigates staff burnout, enhances interoperability, modernizes healthcare information management, boosts revenue, and fortifies data security. Thus, automation becomes integral to building more efficient and sustainable healthcare practices.
How Automation Works in Healthcare
Automation work in healthcare involves the application of technology to streamline processes, improve patient care, and enhance operational efficiency. It encompasses various aspects, from appointment reminders and patient communications through chatbots to the secure storage of patient data using blockchain technology.
Automated clinical workflows reduce staff burnout and promote interoperability, while AI-driven systems aid in diagnosis and medical research. It also facilitates patient engagement, allowing healthcare providers to meet patients where they are and improving access to care.
Moreover, in healthcare administration, dashboard analytics provide valuable insights for decision-makers. Automation not only optimizes healthcare operations but also supports clinicians in making informed decisions, ultimately benefitting patients and providers alike.
Automation in Healthcare Examples
Automation in healthcare has revolutionized the industry, offering innovative solutions that enhance efficiency and patient care. Here are some compelling automation in healthcare examples:
1. Appointment Reminders
Rather than needing manual patient calls, appointment reminder software automatically notifies patients about their upcoming appointments, customizing messages and timing based on patient preferences.
2. Missed Appointment Notifications
For forgetful or emergency-prone patients, some systems automatically send notifications when appointments are missed, facilitating rescheduling. Certain platforms further enhance the scheduling process by enabling patients to book appointments conveniently online, anytime and anywhere.
Efficiently managing patient appointment due dates and outreach becomes simpler with automated recall systems, eliminating time-consuming tasks and boosting productivity.
4. Patient Surveys
Collecting valuable patient feedback on the quality of care can be automated, sparing you from manually sending surveys after each visit or remembering to request them. On busy days, such small yet significant tasks are less likely to be overlooked.
Benefits of Automation in Healthcare Industry
Here are the benefits of automation in healthcare industry:
1. Staff Support:
The global healthcare system faced unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading providers to prioritize the well-being of their staff. To alleviate the burden on healthcare professionals, hotlines were implemented, offering automated triage screening tools that empowered patients to self-assess, thereby reducing the workload on nurses and staff.
Additionally, certain hospitals harnessed AI-driven solutions to detect pneumonia in COVID-19 patients. These various applications of automation in healthcare were specifically designed to support healthcare personnel and mitigate burnout.
2. Patient Interaction
Chatbots handle patient inquiries and appointment scheduling, while AI, equipped with natural language processing (NLP) capabilities, administers surveys and assesses feedback. Healthcare automation bridges the gap between providers and patients, simplifying access to care by meeting patients where they are.
3. Data Security and Blockchain
Blockchain employs encryption and various security protocols to store and interconnect data, bolstering security and data accessibility. When integrated with healthcare automation, blockchain becomes a formidable technology transforming how healthcare professionals leverage medical and patient data to derive valuable insights and enhance care delivery.
4. Dashboard Analytics
Healthcare administrators play a central role in assessing and enhancing operational efficiencies. Healthcare dashboards stand out as a potent resource for healthcare providers, enabling the visualization of data critical for comprehending key performance indicators (KPIs) and facilitating informed decision-making. These dashboards empower insurers to gain insights into claims data, assist providers in obtaining a clearer view of clinical information, and aid hospitals in monitoring resource allocation.
5. Improved Clinical Decision Support and Diagnosis
A significant advantage of healthcare automation lies in its capacity to elevate clinical decision-making and bolster the practice of evidence-based healthcare. This approach harmonizes research with clinical application to ascertain the most effective diagnostic and treatment methods. AI, trained on extensive datasets, accelerates research and diagnostic processes. Physicians can also leverage AI to augment their treatment choices, enriching their expertise rather than supplanting it.
Automation in healthcare is a transformative force that transcends geographic and functional boundaries. Its impact is profound, with benefits spanning improved patient safety through systems like barcode medication administration, and increased healthcare access in developing nations via telemedicine.
The future of healthcare automation promises even greater transformation, with robotics, AI, and telemedicine at the forefront. Data management and security will be further enhanced, ensuring better information sharing while preserving patient privacy.
NuMantra Saas platform provides pioneering applications to enable automation in healthcare that will optimize processes and enhance patient care. Our applications & solutions help streamline workflows, facilitate patient engagement, and ensure data security, supported by dashboard analytics. We empower healthcare providers to make informed decisions, ultimately improving efficiency and the patient experience.
To learn more, contact us today!