Automation in Healthcare Operations
AI has made a significant impact on our day-to-day lives, and healthcare is among the major industry verticals that have gained immensely from AI and automation. Many people still assume that the use of AI in the healthcare industry involves using hi-tech medical robots, but that is far from the truth. AI plays a more significant role in streamlining healthcare operations through better automation and management capabilities.
Automation has revolutionized how the healthcare system works, not just in the US but everywhere around the globe. Automation enhances the accuracy of the process involved in your healthcare business. By using various smart solutions and combining different capabilities of healthcare software, you can optimize practically every major operation in the healthcare industry. This means every aspect of your healthcare business ranging from marketing to sales, can be optimized with the help of automation.
Furthermore, automation enhances the key aspects of healthcare that are necessary for its successful and convenient operation. This ultimately results in a more efficient provision of your healthcare services. By carefully observing your healthcare business, analyzing its requirements, and then coming up with a smart solution, you can serve everyone involved in the healthcare industry, including healthcare professionals and patients.
This article discusses the role of automation in today’s healthcare operations. We elaborate on the different applications as well as advantages of using automation in healthcare operations. Understanding the different applications of automation in the healthcare industry is important in understanding its role in the current situation and in the future. We further discuss how you can generate higher ROI and add to your profits by the proper use of automated systems in healthcare.
Why Do You Need Automation in Healthcare?
Automation offers a plethora of benefits for every industry vertical, and this applies equally to the healthcare industry. Technology has already transformed the healthcare industry in ways we can’t even fully comprehend, and automation is the result of combining the latest healthcare technology and tools.
The automated systems used in healthcare are equipped with high-performance computing abilities and the ability to handle high volume data.
Below we discuss some of the major benefits of automation in the medical industry and explain why you must use automated systems in healthcare.
1. Data Retrieval is Made Faster And More Accurate
One of the biggest advantages offered by an automated system is its ability to retrieve data faster while ensuring a much higher accuracy which is practically impossible in manual processes. Data generation and management are quintessential for healthcare because having the wrong patient data could put people’s lives at risk. Therefore, the more data a healthcare service provider deals with, the more it will need faster and more accurate data retrieval.
EHR or Electronic Health Records has gained immense popularity in recent years, which enables healthcare businesses to keep track of their data and access them fast effectively. Now, experts are equipping EHRs with features that let them generate or access data in real-time. In doing so, the healthcare services or businesses can easily extract the necessary information concerning a patient or healthcare professional that further streamlines your operational and administrative areas.
The availability of instant and accurate data regarding a patient’s healthcare history can potentially save lives if used right. Furthermore, manually processing the healthcare history data, especially over an extensive period of time, significantly increases the chance of an error entering your systems, and this can be effectively avoided via automation. You can also implement real-time data collection and verification for ensuring superior quality data right from the point of collection.
2. Enhanced Ordering Capabilities
The ordering process in the healthcare industry can be more complicated than commercial ones such as clothing or consumer electronics. More often than not, the ordering process involved in the healthcare industry is more complex and time-consuming than others. The legacy solutions often make you repeat the same old process, including multiple clicks/steps for completing a single order, which can get frustrating for the patient or customer.
Automation is equipped with capabilities that make order processing easier for the user through enhanced capabilities. For one thing, automation often involves the use of predictive AI technologies, which can significantly improve the efficiency of your order processing system. For example, you can use automated address filling during orders and even check out the deliverability of the address during order processing for better servicing your patients/customers.
3. Easy and Convenient Billing Process
The use of AI in automation, particularly the ones in revenue applications, is capable of much faster bill regeneration. Furthermore, more and more payment processors are working on securely automating decision-making processes. This includes features such as pre-authorizations with the help of machine learning. However, it is worth noting that the pre-authorizations are usually equipped once a customer has used the payment processing at least once.
Additionally, revenue cycle applications that employ AI can help healthcare organizations further streamline their billing processes with significantly faster bill generation. The system can be implemented online and offline, allowing the patients leaving from a physical healthcare center and from your healthcare/medical online store to have a faster billing process. This is especially critical for specific cases such as high-deductible healthcare plans that have a high patient payment.
4. Adaptive Staffing
The healthcare industry has always used highly advanced technologies, but this was often limited to expensive electronic devices and never in a holistic manner. To effectively use technologies like automation to their advantage, the healthcare industry needs to employ adaptive staffing. This means that the staffing of your healthcare service/business must be altered by smartly using machine learning. As a result, you will be able to support even the ever-fluctuating emergency department through effective staffing.
This means that even if you have a minimum staff working at a time at your healthcare organization, you can still effectively allocate your staff. This is done in such a way that all the patients are attended to, which ultimately leads to lesser delays in ambulatory services regardless of the patient volume. Furthermore, you can also refer to multiple sources to access the historical data that can reveal when your healthcare business has to handle a larger number of patients, for example, during flu season. Similarly, you can also ramp up your functional capabilities using the same data.
How Can Automation in Healthcare Help The Patients?
When it comes to healthcare, we prefer to use the most advanced but at the same time most convenient systems, especially for our personal healthcare. So, it is only natural that you’d want automation not just to help your business’s internal processes but also be able to help your patients have a more convenient experience with your healthcare service. Luckily for you, automation in healthcare benefits the patients just as much as the healthcare service provider, if not more.
Major benefits your patients can enjoy by effectively employing automation in healthcare
1. Early And Easy Disease Detection
Prevention is better than cure is perhaps the most famous health mantra that all of us have heard at least once in our life. With the application of automation in the medical industry, it is no longer just a mantra but an easily achievable goal. The early detection of disease can benefit the patients in more than one way, including not having to spend a fortune on healthcare or using up your health insurance for something that could have been easily avoided had you detected the disease sooner.
But, more importantly, early detection of a disease enables the patient to hinder its progression through early treatment effectively. AI again plays a vital role in disease detection, and it even enables you to detect the disease even before you start showing any of the symptoms in most cases. Apart from being convenient or saving you valuable time, it can potentially be saving your life, and you simply cannot put a value on that.
For example, let’s consider the case of neural networks that can be used to detect cancer in the lungs in its early stages. Here, disease detection is so easy and fast that it can beat even a well-trained radiologist. As a result of such advanced disease detection, the patient is able to ensure their safety and their families. In fact, it is high time that we consider making such advanced healthcare capabilities to track the health of the physically vulnerable as it can potentially save lives.
2. Fast And Accurate Medical Diagnostics
When it comes to healthcare, the medical diagnosis is perhaps the most crucial aspect for the patient. As long as the diagnosis is made fast and in an accurate way, we can be sure that the patient gets the best treatment for their ailments. This is particularly important for serious health problems or diseases. In addition, making the right call during a medical emergency could easily be the factor that decides whether or not a person will survive a medical emergency.
It goes without saying that a delayed or inaccurate diagnosis significantly increases the chance of the disease getting worse for the patient, and in the worst-case scenario, they may even end up losing their life. It is also possible that the healthcare professionals make a wrong decision while expediting the diagnosis, especially during an emergency which can also lead to disastrous results. In comparison, an automated diagnosis provides you with a fast and precise result.
Additionally, automation can also help the patients to detect any form of deviations from his/her prescribed healthcare plan that can jeopardize the patient’s health. By being able to track these deviations in real-time, the healthcare professional is also able to intervene effectively to ensure that the patient’s health is back on track. Furthermore, healthcare providers can even use an automated dispensing machine that allows you to skip lines and get the right drugs you need.
3. Access to Quality Healthcare
As you may have already noticed by now, automation has a way of streamlining numerous healthcare processes that go well beyond routine operational or administrative processes. Automation enables you to offer healthcare services in a way that makes it easier for patients to interact with their respective healthcare professionals.
This is made possible through the enhanced efficiency of business operations, streamlined patient management, and superior patient data retrieval capability. Simply having fast and easy access to patient data and its guaranteed accuracy alone is enough to provide quality healthcare service to your patients. This is because having easy access to quality patient data eventually leads to a simplified healthcare process and hence is a vital part of providing quality healthcare service to the patients.
It also means that you get to streamline multiple processes such as patient indexing and patient data entry/management. Furthermore, automation also enables better monitoring of the patients and even sets reminders for follow-up appointments, ultimately enhancing the quality of healthcare service you provide your patients.
4. Better Patient Participation And Management
Many of us tend to put off our healthcare unless and until we start noticing visible symptoms of deteriorating health simply because we are lazy or find it inconvenient to make a trip to the doctor’s office. In other words, if it’s not convenient, we simply don’t want it, and this statement is true for many people, even when it comes to their healthcare. Under such circumstances, ensuring patient participation and their management can turn into a headache for you.
An effective solution to this problem is launching a mobile app for your healthcare services/business, as practically everyone carries one with them 24/7. Apart from being extremely convenient for the patients, it is also capable of easing the management challenges of patient care. Booking appointments, checking the patient history, and even paying the hospital bills can be automated using a dedicated mobile app. The patients can even get directly in touch with their doctors through the app.
5. Minimize The Errors
Healthcare is one of the industries where the accuracy of the data as well as the processes can not be compromised under any circumstance. Even a slight error in the data you have on a patient or their medical history could have a devastating effect, and it could quite literally be the difference between life and death.
That being said, at least some mistakes are inevitable even in the healthcare industry because by the end of the day, as long as human activities are involved, there’s always the possibility for an error. For example, a physician who is constantly interacting with different patients may commit an honest mistake because of fatigue or a lack of attention. With an automated system, this is no longer the case.
The healthcare providers now have access to advanced electronic systems that can offer patients efficient and error-free healthcare services. Furthermore, the computerized platform you get in the automated system is so streamlined that it offers practically no room for undesirable errors that can hinder your healthcare services.
6. Enhance The Safety of Treatment Solutions
As we have mentioned multiple times before, healthcare is a highly sensitive industry, and patient safety should always be your first priority. Automation can significantly improve the safety of your patients who choose to trust their lives in your hands. Automation is able to accomplish such an important task, not because of any specific feature that exhibits but as a result of its collective capability.
One of the most important contributing factors that make automated healthcare solutions safer is their accurate diagnosis. The right diagnosis is a key factor that can be pivotal in providing the right treatment for a specific patient. An automated system that is more accurate than most diagnostic methods ensures that the patient has the lowest risk of complication by avoiding the wrong treatment to be given to a patient.
Doctors can better understand the problems concerning the patient, which in turn makes them more sure about their recommendations. This was automation ensures that a patient gets the most appropriate treatment for his/her ailments. Furthermore, automation also ensures that there are minimal malpractices that are often caused as a result of the improper diagnosis.
It also means that healthcare service providers can significantly reduce getting themselves involved in medical malpractice lawsuits. This can save valuable time and money not just for your healthcare business but also for your patients.
7. Superior Communication
Thanks to automation, accurate data is easily accessible to healthcare professionals. It significantly enhances the communication between the patient and their healthcare professional. This is also thanks to the superior quality of data obtained and maintained through an automated system. Let us take the example of making an appointment with the doctor’s office. When it comes to medical appointments, we often end up waiting for the doc despite having made an appointment in advance.
We often end up waiting for the doctor despite having booked a prior appointment because the manual calculations are flawed. Automation enables you to have a more comprehensive picture of your business operations, including managing appointment times. The automated system is capable of calculating a more accurate appointment time for the patients so that they don’t have to waste their valuable time waiting to meet the doctor.
Furthermore, the automated system is also capable of reminding the patients about their appointments which is often missed by the patients. This effectively reduces the number of patients missing appointments. Apart from this, the timely notification further encourages direct feedback from the patients, which can allow them to communicate with the healthcare facility and inform them if they are unable to make it to a prior appointment. This further makes it easier to track patient appointments and even enables you to confirm or cancel appointments.
8. Long-Lasting Equipment With Superior Capabilities
Manual or mechanical equipment, including diagnostic machines, is prone to damages, which can become extremely inconvenient for healthcare businesses. Furthermore, lab technicians can also damage sensitive equipment such as pipettes and test tubes with daily use. What is even more concerning is that improperly maintained equipment may contaminate the samples collected from the patients. This may eventually lead to devastating situations that can ultimately damage the company’s reputation.
It is also important to note that the automated process is less than likely to deviate from the task, unlike the manual ones, which can often have varying results. Automation can help you streamline your operations and avoid errors that are common in manual processes. Additionally, the automated process is far more efficient and faster than the manual one, which ultimately saves you valuable time and effort. This also means that the patients can save their time which would otherwise have been spent visiting the hospital or healthcare facility for obtaining test results.
9. Better Affordability For Healthcare Services
As we have discussed before, the illness or diseases are diagnosed at a much earlier stage, making them easier to treat. The early detection or diagnosis of a disease allows you to save the patient’s body from extensive damage. As you may have guessed already, diagnosing the illness earlier and detecting the damage to the patient’s body at an earlier stage is easier to treat. This ultimately results in lower medical expenses as the physical damages are easier to tend to and fix.
Furthermore, automation also enables healthcare professionals to accurately prescribe the right medications after considering important data, including the patient’s medical history. Using automation in healthcare is especially useful for preventing infections from worsening. As a result, the patient is able to avoid long-term hospitalization and, therefore, avoid the expensive hospital bills.
How Can Automation in Healthcare Boost Your ROI?
Automation in healthcare does more than just make operation convenient for patients and healthcare service providers. If used right, automation can not only optimize your business operation but also effectively boost your ROI. Automation enhances your ROI by improving operational efficiency and reducing costs.
Furthermore, incorporating AI and machine learning into your healthcare business can streamline your process in a holistic manner that helps both the patients and the healthcare providers. Below we discuss some of the major areas where automation plays a vital role in boosting healthcare ROI.
Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) and Claims Denial
One of the main challenges healthcare businesses face when it comes to RCM or Revenue Cycle Management is that the undesired claim denials. More often than not, these denials are a result of legacy solutions and their complex workflows. A whopping 79% of RCMs still use outdated systems and stand-alone applications. Furthermore, these age-old systems and applications are not equipped to be integrated into many of the significant manual processes leading to authorization issues or charge capture.
As a result, almost 20% of claims in healthcare get denied, which can be frustrating for the patients, and they may even end up resenting your healthcare services. Hence, healthcare providers must make it a priority to minimize claim denials if at all possible. Using a robust RCM for your healthcare service can boost your overall revenue by five percent. Apart from this, you can also significantly reduce your annual administrative spending.
You can start the upgrading of your RCM system by first implementing an IPA approach. Even the most complex workflows involved in healthcare can be optimized through hyper-automation. This means optimizing your complex workflows, including pre-claim, patient encounters, payment posting, transaction follow-up, and more.
You can use AI-assisted data technology for advanced automation capabilities that can be implemented on the denial analytics dashboard. This can then be used to track and analyze patterns in claim denials. You can even automate follow-ups which in turn results in boosted overall clean claim rates. The end result is a well-optimized RCM process that can provide you with a significantly higher Return on Investment or ROI.
Provider Supply Chain Optimization
The provider supply chain, especially that in the healthcare industry, is much more complex than one in other industries. Typically, a US hospital ends up spending around $12.1 million in excess on its supply chain merely because the process is not properly optimized. Automation can help you optimize your provider supply chain to such an extent that it can literally save your healthcare business millions of dollars.
In order to avoid the surplus spending of your revenue on the provider supply chain, healthcare businesses often sacrificed clinical outcomes. However, sacrificing clinical outcomes for the sake of avoiding overages is not a viable solution as it can do your business more bad than good. Whereas an automated system can help you get rid of the surplus spend without compromising on any other aspect of your business.
Healthcare providers can streamline almost all major administrative functions of their business by smartly leveraging IPA. Automation optimizes Key functions such as purchase order management, inventory management, and even supply and demand planning. As you can see, automation is not a singular aspect of your business but a holistic one that can positively influence numerous business processes, both operational and administrative.
Furthermore, automating your supply chain activities and then integrating them in revenue cycle operations can prove to be crucial in driving purchasing decisions, streamlining their distribution, and optimizing the costs. You can even integrate data analytics capabilities to track your progress better, reduce pricing variations, ultimately maximize product use. And you are able to do all this while not having to compromise on clinical outcomes or efficiency.
Better Communication Through Contact Center
Customer experience is at the heart of every successful business that has ever existed, and it holds the same significance in the case of healthcare providers, if not more. When it comes to communication between a patient and their healthcare service provider and customer retention, the contact centers play a vital role. The truth is that the existing communication system is extensively fragmented. If you wish to provide a more satisfying customer experience, these fragmented elements in communication need to be unified.
Contact centers virtually handle a whopping 75% of patient cycle interactions. By employing an integrated IPA solution, several applications are unified, and this enables the system to deliver relevant data you need in real-time. As a result, healthcare businesses are able to automate the processes leading to efficient post-call wrap-ups. This significantly boosts the quality of interactions made with the contact centers and enhances their efficiency.
Automation can streamline and smoothen out several processes, including billing data and refund management, appointment scheduling, patient data management, and even optimize report generation for your business. By streamlining or optimizing the operations mentioned above, the contact centers can better communicate with the patients accurately and minimize confusion. This alone is a good enough reason to equip your contact centers with automation capabilities.
Apart from increasing the overall efficiency of the communication functions we discussed above by an incredible 90%, these automated functions can directly bring your business an increased ROI. You must also keep in mind that automation is the first step you can take towards equipping your healthcare business with multi-channel support, easy self-service, and personalized experiences. It also means that your personnel can finally get themselves rid of repetitive and manual tasks and focus their attention on more important customer-centric initiatives.
Superior Direct Mail Capabilities
Direct mail is still an important communication medium in the healthcare industry. Many patients prefer receiving their healthcare reports, bills, and other important documents by postal mail rather than having a pdf sent to them via email. In fact, healthcare organizations also consider direct mail as a powerful marketing tool because of its high response rate and ROI. Automation has evolved so much that the entire direct mail process from personalization to printing to mailing can be fully automated.
Automating your direct mail is now so easy that all you need to do is integrate an advanced address verification API such as PostGrid to your website, and you can immediately start automating your direct mail process. You can personalize your direct mail using the CRM of your website for better accuracy and convenience. Furthermore, PostGrid also enables you to bulk verify and mail your postal mailpieces, which would have otherwise cost you valuable time and money.
What’s even more interesting about advanced solutions like PostGrid is that they are capable of running a bulk address verification of your address database using nothing but a simple CSV file. The CASS certified address verification from PostGrid enables you to make sure that the addresses you have are real and deliverable by the USPS. As a result, you can effectively reduce the return rate of your direct mail campaigns, which further leads to a better ROI.
PostGrid also uses certified printers along with top-quality paper and ink so that your business gets the best direct mail automation facility possible. It is also worth noting that using an automated direct mail solution, like PostGrid, takes away the need for handling bulk mails, including printing, mailing, storage, and even machinery. Therefore, it is evident that using a third-party service provider like PostGrid is the way to go when it comes to direct mail for healthcare.
Automation in healthcare operations is inevitable, and every healthcare provider is using automation for their operational or administrative purposes in one way or another. However, it is high time that healthcare providers make automation a priority as it can significantly enhance the convenience of everyone interacting with their healthcare business. This means both the patient and the healthcare professional can gain by incorporating automated systems in healthcare.
Automation in healthcare has the potential to let doctors and healthcare service providers provide better care for their patients and track their progress. However, many of us may be forgetting that automation also enables healthcare businesses to optimize their operations to generate a higher ROI. A perfect example of this can be seen in direct mail automation. Automation such as the one we see in healthcare direct mail using advanced tools like PostGrid significantly reduces the time and effort required in day-to-day business operations.
By automating time-consuming tasks like direct mail, automated tools like PostGrid save valuable time and money for your business. Furthermore, advanced third-party solutions, like PostGrid, support additional capabilities like address verification and even geocoding. As a result of these advanced capabilities and automation, you can streamline your business operations with virtually zero error. The results are significantly higher ROI and a well-tuned business that can function smoothly in any given circumstance.