Automation and healthcare tend to go hand in hand these days. With continual advancements in technology, digitization of processes, and changing laws and regulations, healthcare will continue to automate and improve for years to come. But what does automation in healthcare mean? And how can it be done the right way?
Simplify Core Systems First
When it comes to automation, the main intention should be to simplify and improve processes. The day-to-day workflows that are integrated into multiple aspects of your business can greatly benefit from automation. These core processes could be anything from daily data capture workflows to consistent tracking of revenue cycle management. These daily activities should run as efficiently as possible. Since core processes affect entire teams and multiple departments, streamlining these can bring cohesion and efficiency across an organization.
Within every business, there are processes that are either repetitive or time-consuming and can be improved. Automating core systems can alleviate a lot of wasted time, energy, and money throughout various workflows. Every second counts and even small amounts of automation can save minutes a day, which ends up being hours of department time per week, month, and year. So start small, and work your way up.
Implement in Stages
The last thing you want to do is overwhelm your business or your employees with changes for which nobody was prepared. When it comes to healthcare automation, complex workflows will face many iterations and trials before ever being implemented.
The beginning stages should include evaluation and planning. Then, you can move on to discovery and implementation. Lastly, you would begin the testing and training process. People who will be directly affected or directly utilizing new software or workflows must be well-versed long before the launch date. You don’t want to overwhelm employees by launching too soon. This can lead to errors, stalled workflows, unsatisfied workers, and a reversal of the implementation.
You should consider putting together a task force that spearheads the entire implementation from beginning to end. They plan every step, alert those affected, and implement changes appropriately in each stage. This is especially important when an IT team must be involved in implementation. Within the healthcare system, you are likely to share an IT team within the organization, and they cannot always be fully dedicated to your implementation.
Look for the Biggest ROI
Automation should be worth the time, effort, and money put in. There are a few questions to ask when determining which automation will bring the highest ROI and you should prioritize those first. To prove your concept and idea have a strong ROI, ask yourself these questions:
- How many people will this affect?
- How much time will go into implementing this change?
- How expensive is this new software or automation?
- How much time or money will this save us?
- How much training is involved?
- Does this require new hardware to implement?
- Is the energy put towards automating worth the result?
Not all ROI will necessarily include monetary gain. Some automation may simply streamline workflows and processes, and the ROI is time saved. So, if your team can positively answer most of these questions, the concept may be worthwhile to implement. If you can determine that the automation would cost more than the money it would save, it doesn’t have to be rejected entirely, but it can be re-evaluated.
Prioritize Patient Experience
When deciding what processes to automate, there should always be a prioritization of the patient experience. Whether checking patients in, scheduling appointments, communicating lab results, filing medical claims, etc. — patient care should be the top priority. Healthcare professionals all have a hand in the patient experience, whether they handle data entry or hands-on patient care. Process automation should intend to improve both internal workflows as well as external results. In all aspects, the full patient experience could be affected in some way, depending on when or where you implement automated processes.
Have a Full Understanding of New Technologies and Their Impact
New technologies are continually invented and applied within the healthcare system. New medical devices are developed or improved every single day. New hardware, software, and surgical tools are continuously updated to make processes better across the board. It’s essential to be able to grasp the full impact of new technologies before you apply them to an organization.
The steps of the process must always be considered. If a new software sounds like more overhead than what it’s meant to provide in terms of automation, is it worth the implementation? Just because something seems to be new and different doesn’t always mean it will be better. So it’s imperative to have a full grasp of what it would entail to introduce and train people on new technology. This can be done early on to save a lot of potential confusion down the road.
Smart Data Solutions’ goal is to streamline your complete healthcare data workflow. We know how much goes into simplifying and automating your solutions, and we want to help. We’ve done this time and time again and can give you all of the support and intel you need to improve and implement new solutions to existing workflows. To learn more, contact us here!