The fastest-growing segment in healthcare is the automation of health care processes. Through the use of technology applications, efficiencies deemed impossible are fast becoming a reality in healthcare. In fact, the global market size of medical automation grew from USD 34.21 billion in 2015 to USD 52.02 billion in 2020. Moreover, a growth rate of 9.9% in health care automation is also expected by 2024.
While manual healthcare systems have existed for a long time, they are inefficient in several ways. They require a lot of paperwork. There is poor communication. It is hard to convert manual data into information. Accessing patient information is also a challenge. Even worse, they over-rely on human judgment.
As a result, manual healthcare systems are prone to more mistakes and accidents. To accelerate and streamline healthcare delivery, six processes that can be automated in any healthcare facility have been identified. Through automating these processes, healthcare facilities will become more effective and efficient. In turn, the overall patient experience at healthcare facilities is improved.
Patient scheduling process
Manual appointment scheduling with a secretary might still work. In fact, many healthcare facilities are still using this system. However, this method has become untenable due to high population growth. Patient wait time keeps increasing. Miscommunications between medical staff and patients keep occurring.
Due to longer waiting times, delays in treatment become inevitable. This affects the utilization of critical resources, as well as the overall quality of the healthcare delivered. However, the automation of the patient scheduling process can help reduce these inefficiencies.
Automating the patient scheduling process enables effective and efficient scheduling of patient appointments; it also leads to reduced wait time, patients are treated on time, and the overall patient experience at healthcare facilities is also improved. Through automated scheduling systems, there are real-time updates of open spots. Thus, automation facilitates effective communication.
In a clinical study on automated scheduling systems, 90% of participants reported that automatic reminders from clinics enabled them to attend their appointments on time. Without automated reminders, most patients forget their clinic appointments. Time is therefore wasted.
Time is one of the most valuable resources in healthcare. Through automation, efficient use of time is guaranteed. Automated patient scheduling systems can also be integrated with other medical practice software. This adds to the efficiency of healthcare facilities. There are many healthcare scheduling software solutions available on the market.
Claims and billing process
Accuracy of the claims and the billing process is key in any healthcare facility. Inaccurate billing due to human error can lead to huge losses of revenue in healthcare. Additionally, manual billing methods have a low operational capacity.
Automated claims and billing processes will reduce revenue loss through reduced human error. Through automation, the auditing of medical claims and bills is improved. This enhances the efficiency of healthcare facilities.
Filling medical records
Automated medical records are safer and more efficient than manual medical records. Through automation, patient data is organized, stored, and secured through indexing. It is also quick and easy to retrieve and share digital medical records files. Furthermore, they ensure regulatory compliance with some FDA processes.
In contrast, manual medical files are difficult to store and less secure. They also take a long time to compile, categorize and retrieve. Loss of manual patient data is more common, and once data is lost, it is rarely recovered. Therefore, automation of the medical filing system will result in more efficiency and effectiveness compared to the manual system.
In healthcare, inventory management involves the tracking of purchase orders and medical supplies. It also includes the recording and tracking of dispensed medicine. Medical inventory management records product supply and usage to avoid monetary losses.
Manual stock-taking in healthcare is a cumbersome task, often prone to human error. These human errors in inventory management can be detrimental to people’s health. By mistake, medical personnel can dispense expired or recalled medicines to patients. Many medical lawsuits are a result of human error.
Through automated inventory management systems, medical personnel makes informed decisions when dispensing medicines. Automated inventory management systems also provide complete product visibility. Expired or recalled medical supplies are pulled off shelves early in automated systems. This results in improved healthcare efficiency.
Automated medical diagnostic imaging systems are trending in the advancement of health processes. Before, vital diagnostic medical processes relied mainly on manual practices. These conventional methods are often successful but limited in some ways. The manual process of testing samples is slow and susceptible to many mistakes. Poor human judgment is one of them.
The automation of this process significantly reduces these limitations. Automated diagnostics have high accuracy and specificity in detecting small radiographic abnormalities. Results are obtained in less time. Thus, automation of diagnostic imaging results in better efficiency and improved public health.
Dose dispensing process
The process of dispensing medication starts from issuing prescriptions to patients. This process also includes the administration of those prescribed medicines. One common error in manual dose dispensing is the issuance of unauthorized drugs.
Sometimes, medical personnel prescribe expired medicines or issue wrong dose prescriptions. There are reports where drugs were issued to the wrong patient. Sometimes, medicines have been mistakenly left out of prescriptions. Automation will improve efficiency in medicine dose dispensing.
Automating medicine dispensation reduces the chances of error in medication dispensing. Potential diversion from medication is identified and prevented early. Thus, automated dose dispensing improves safety in medicine and adherence to treatment. As a result, the quality of care given to patients also improves. These patients include those with comorbidities, as well as the elderly, usually involving the usage of several different medications.
The cons of automating healthcare processes
The automation of healthcare processes requires huge capital expenditure. If this cost is passed to patients, healthcare may become inaccessible to most people. Automated healthcare processes are also high maintenance. The technical skills of medical staff will need constant updating. Any errors in the programming of these automated systems can result in loss of life and medical lawsuits.
Despite the challenges stated above, automated healthcare processes offer better health outcomes. These are actually exciting times for healthcare. Improved engagement between healthcare facilities and patients is fast becoming a reality. No healthcare facility should be left behind in automation. Improved quality of life should be available for all.