Automation is no longer a luxury – but rather a necessity – for hospitals to include in their long-term growth strategy. This continues to be a challenging reality for the healthcare industry.
With reports suggesting 2017 medical costs will continue to rise at the same rate as 2016, it’s no surprise the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds healthcare is among the top issues Americans want President Trump and the next Congress to address in 2017.
Patients want more out of their care.
In efforts to deliver to this demand, care providers are looking beyond the current healthcare environment, not because they want to chase the “next big idea,” but because the status quo is no longer enough.
Overall cost reduction and efficiency continues to stand amongst the top financial priorities for hospital and health systems CEOs.
And it’s easy to see why…
The challenges surrounding a growing aging population, together with the complex and ongoing nursing shortage, create a demand for healthcare automation to increase efficiency and eliminate redundant work and manual tasks.
But that’s not all.
A new mode of reimbursement, known as bundled payments, puts added pressure on providers to encourage value-based care. Hospitals must find new ways to position themselves favorably in a competitive market.
Care providers are looking to evaluate, implement and optimize supporting technology to propel their efforts to the next level.
Here are three ways applying automation to healthcare can help you do exactly that:
- By Lowering Labor Costs
“If you look at an average hospital’s financial statement, 50% to 60% of their expenses are salaries and benefits,” John Dragovits, chief financial office of Dallas-based Parkland Health & Hospital System, told HealthLeaders in 2012.
The healthcare industry has previously dragged its feet in regards to automation, partially out of fear that robots would take the place of human workers. But as critics have pointed out, automation will not replace doctors and nurses. Rather, the technology can be used to replace manually intensive tasks that are better performed by a machine, which in turn will elevate employees into higher-functioning roles that make effective use of their clinical expertise.
- By Improving Quality and Consistency of Care
With the latest changes to reimbursement methods, patient-related data is becoming increasingly essential in tracking results while minimizing unnecessary costs. Providing accurate and up-to-date information about patients at the point of care leads to better outcomes and improved patient satisfaction. By keeping the patients engaged electronically, care providers are better equipped to keep them on track, meaning less risk of deviating from the recommended care plan. In turn, the ability to track and share data insights motivates performance and encourages physician alignment.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of automation tools is the fact they are not subject to human error or fatigue. This allows for a consistent basis of care activities, ensuring safer care by helping providers reduce medical errors and effectively diagnose patients. A study on Texas hospitals found that greater automation in the areas of medical records, order entry, and decision support, appeared to result in lower death rates, and reduced complications and cost.
- By Increasing Patient Satisfaction
When was the last time you did something online, so you didn’t have to call and talk to a person? Probably at least once a day. Patients want this same convenience from their healthcare providers.
Automation can help close the communication gap between nurses and patients. By giving them automated options, patients can get answers fast without having to wait on hold or get a call back. This makes it easier for providers to engage patients throughout the care continuum, providing them with the information they need at exactly the time they need it.
For decades, we’ve watched other industries respond to the changes inspired by technology and consumer demands – with advancements such as online banking, streamlined airline check-in, and smartphone-controlled thermostats. The healthcare industry may have a steep hill to climb, but it’s one we can no longer afford to ignore.