Automation is one of the concepts under constant discussion. One side argues automation is the future. The opposite side indicates that it will take over people’s jobs. In the middle are those suggesting this technology trend will be a great equalizer. Going through all three points, one thing is clear – to make healthtech automation systems beneficial, you need to know how to use the phenomenon and understand its advantages. That applies equally to any given industry, healthcare included.
According to Precedence Research, the global healthcare automation market is booming and is anticipated to reach a value of $91.6 billion by 2030, compared to its current worth of about $38 billion. Moreover, McKinsey indicates that 33% of all healthcare professionals’ tasks will be automated for cost minimization. Finally, about 90% of large healthcare organizations have some degree of automation included.
Putting all the pieces together, precise automation is deep within healthcare. This trend will continue and bring significant positive changes to the industry. To determine what those shifts might be, it is crucial to explore healthtech automation systems in greater detail and look at eight key benefits automation in healthcare brings to the table.
What is Healthcare Automation System?
Simply put, healthcare automation is adopting various techs, such as software, wearable devices, and robotics, to boost the efficiency of different processes within a healthcare organization. To tap into the phenomenon, you need to hire a vendor with expertise in healthcare software development. At the moment, many organizations and companies have already tapped into healthcare automation. That is why the market is booming (see Fig.1).
In addition, automation in healthcare is crucial for improving how health services are delivered and how medical professionals perform day-to-day tasks. To illustrate, as COVID-19 arrived, it served as a push for mHealth to help automate remote care provision. Additionally, automating healthcare proved to be a vital part of overall healthcare management.
Automation in Healthcare Management
The speed of care delivery and availability measures how effective healthcare management is. Thus, automation helps medical professionals make timely decisions and deliver results even in remote areas. Organizations can now have HIPAA-compliant software, improving their efficiency and reducing the number of manual, repetitive tasks to almost zero.
Another vital part of healthcare management is data processing. In such a case, healthcare automation improves how data is stored, assimilated, and analyzed. Data automation is a direct way to save medical professionals’ time and let them focus on what is most important – patient health. As a result, it is at the core of efficient healthcare management. However, it would be best to remember that automation is only possible with the proper tech.
Healthcare Automation Tech
There are dozens of technologies out there that can serve as a boost for automation. Yet, only some tools are a good fit for healthcare. Besides, in most cases, building healthcare software is more complicated than for other industries. You need to pay additional attention to data security and make sure the services you offer will not do any harm.
Keeping these factors in mind, these are the technologies one can use to promote patient experience services in the context of healthcare automation.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
RPA is one of the frontrunners among tech, bringing automation to industries. The technology entails pre-programmed bots automating different activities within the value chain. The scope ranges from patient interaction to payment services. The number of RPA applications in healthcare is growing and will continue to grow soon (see Fig.2).
RPA can be a great aid in scanning paper documents, extracting data, transferring PHI to Electronic Health Records (EHRs), and converting images into text. At this point, healthcare automation delivered by RPA takes a lot of burden from the shoulders of medical staff. In turn, they can focus on more critical tasks and make themselves more helpful in care delivery. For instance, they can aid practitioners in handling HIPAA-compliant telehealth apps to bring care to patients in the most remote areas.
Business Process Management (BPM)
BPM is also known as business workflow automation. It helps streamline various business processes to improve the reliability and responsiveness of procedures in the core of the given processes. In healthcare automation, BPM can aid in improving engagement and relationships within healthcare organizations. In a nutshell, BPM is a management tool to identify organizational processes that fail to deliver the desired results. It is an excellent instrument to aid patients, payers, and providers when used correctly.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
It would be an understatement to say that AI is everywhere, and this technology is the automation pioneer. AI technologies in healthtech are extensively used to make administrative tasks and data management more efficient. In healthcare specifically, the technology works best for categorizing reports, dealing with clinical paperwork, and making Revenue Cycle Management (CRM) more effective. Considering the other tech pushing forward automation in healthcare, AI is a definite leader in market growth (see Fig.3).
Figure 3. Artificial intelligence in the healthcare market size in USD billion
AI helps handle vast amounts of data. It mimics how humans reason to find the best and most efficient solutions to even the most complex challenges. Virtually any realm can benefit from this technology. It brings automation to many aspects of healthtech automation systems, including telehealth, thus giving rise to smart automation in telehealth.
As AI entered the market, it led to the spread of different AI-based iterations. Administrative applications are one of them. These are programs medical professionals use to improve efficiency as well as reduce the number of administrative errors. In addition, cutting the number of administrative tasks performed is a direct way to cut healthcare costs, and some argue that it may bring up to a 30% spending reduction. As a result, administrative applications use the power of AI and RPA to target administrative-based inefficiencies directly.
Rule-Based Expert Systems
When engaging in healthcare workflow analysis and implementation, one must speak about rule-based expert systems. These are so-called “if-then” rules used within self-learning algorithms. Rule-based expert systems facilitate decision-making.
In healthcare, technology automates how practitioners come to evidence-based conclusions about diagnosing and treating various conditions. Often, a developer formats a particular code along with a set of rules later applied to a specific framework and requirements. As a result, you get healthcare software capable of proposing and diagnosing diseases based on the input.
Machine Learning (ML)
ML is a segment of AI. While the latter mimics human reasoning, the former is about mimicking how humans learn. In healthcare automation, ML makes data-based decisions as precisely as ever. ML-based tools can forecast the most effective treatment options.
You fuel PHIs and treatment framework into the system, and it provides you with the ready-to-go solution. The technology’s self-learning capabilities have a broad range of applications. They can evolve and become more accurate. You need to provide them with enough training data.
Natural Language Processing (NLP)
Finally, there is NLP. In short, it is a technology providing machines with the ability to recognize human language. These can work with both text and speech. NLP is broadly used in customer service as conversational AI and chatbots, combining computational linguistics with ML. That allows computers to process human language, translate it into the input a machine can understand, and then offer an output in the form a human can comprehend.
Besides, the technology does not only recognize the textual and speech-generated data itself, but also understands aspects like intent, context, and sentiment. In healthcare, NLP is used for speech recognition, text examination, and translation. It can help make healthcare paperless.
The technologies above make automation in healthcare possible. Everything revolved around AI and RPA, with other tech being the iterations of these two. However, each can be applied appropriately to automate almost every aspect of healthcare provision, from administrative tasks to diagnosing patients. To capture the broader scope of what automation promises to healthcare, it is crucial to explore some of the key benefits it brings to healthtech.
8 Key Advantages of Healthcare Automation Systems
After everything covered on healthcare automation, the only thing left is investigating the distinct benefits of the phenomenon. Without further ado, these are some critical advantages of bringing automation into the healthcare industry:
1. Cost Minimization
Every business in any industry is constantly looking to minimize costs. That is particularly true with healthcare. For instance, the provision of healthcare services takes a massive chunk of the national budget of the United States (see Fig.4).
Thus, high cost is one of the key concerns healthcare professionals anticipate automation to fix. At the moment, it proved to do the job. Healthcare automation enhances productivity, minimizes the chance of error, reduces the number of manual tasks, and takes overtime to almost zero. On the one hand, automation grants more time for medical professionals to be spent more effectively. Conversely, predictive analytics, as one of the automation technologies, improve diagnosing, thus reducing the cost of the diagnostic process.
Let’s consider the case of readmissions to show how automation can help bring healthcare costs down. On average, readmitted patients cost hospitals about $550 million. Yet, with AI and RPA at play, they can analyze all the scheduling, booking, and rescheduling more efficiently and precisely. That eventually leads to decreased readmissions, which translates into cost reduction.
2. Streamlining Scheduling Services
In the example above, we have demonstrated how better scheduling leads to a lower rate of readmissions. But there is much more the phenomenon can help achieve when automated. Most hospitals still use a manual scheduling approach that is laborious and time-consuming. Besides, you must have staff dedicate their time to complete the task. Finally, when humans are involved, a chance of human error arises.
With the arrival of automation, scheduling services do not need to be manual and laborious. Healthtech automation systems combine the power of automation software coupled with EHRs. On the part of patients, automation improves communication with healthcare providers. Often, people forget their appointment dates, which leads to patients missing their appointments.
Respectively, the software is programmed to deliver automated notifications through different communication channels. That ensures patients will attend their appointments. Besides, mHealth scheduling software can help deliver scheduling opportunities to remote areas.
3. Data Management Enhancement
You might have noticed that a great deal of effectiveness and efficiency within the healthcare industry depends on how well professionals can handle various data forms. Building a functional healthcare data strategy brings the utmost benefits. In such a case, health providers that can harness the power of data handling are the ones who will be most advantageous on the market.
Healthcare automation can help improve data management and get a competitive edge. Here is how it works. EHR ensures seamless data retrieval. These machines have all the PHIs and much more. After that, AI and ML process the data provided by EHRs to make accurate predictions about the most suitable treatment options. Besides, automated EHR tools can generate data in real time and vast volumes. That is why they are still relevant after EHR being on the market for more than 50 years (see Fig.5).
With automation and more traditional data retrieval instruments, data management has become much more efficient. Notably, it is applicable in different parts of healthcare service provision, for instance, ordering and billing. With automated EHR machines, you can complete a single order in several clicks. In turn, with billing, automation in healthcare not only helps process bills faster but also ensures quicker delivery to patients, which improves customer satisfaction.
4. Collaborative Environments Facilitation
When handling administrative tasks manually, the most significant difficulty often stems from the fact that different institutions and departments need to collaborate more effectively. Thus, people get data updates late or data transferred incorrectly. In such a case, these inefficiencies lead to data corruption and administrative tasks being done longer than expected. With automation, for instance, AI-based healthcare apps, the case can change for the better.
In short, automation helps build collaborative environments. These offer instant updates related to PHIs and allow different entities to access data in the context of various institutions and departments. So, AI helps automate how healthcare professionals from these departments and institutions access the same data. The software updates the information and makes sure everyone has access to it. With such collaboration, there is a lower chance of a mistake, and practitioners can use the most up-to-date information to provide the best treatment options.
5. Getting Agile into Healthcare
Agile is a unique project management approach focusing on bringing customer value as fast as possible and with the slightest hiccups involved. Instead of working on a large project all at once, it is deconstructed into smaller parts, and each team works on its part parallel to one another. This approach is most suitable when a sudden patient influx like COVID-19 occurs and the number of hospital admissions skyrocket.
Bringing agility to healthcare is an excellent way of matching the staffing needs to patient demands. Here, healthtech automation systems can bring some noticeable tangible outcomes:
- Smart beds can constantly monitor respiratory and heart rates, thus reducing the number of code blue events.
- Incorporating the Internet of Things devices into patient homes provides more efficient appointment notifications.
- AI technologies in healthcare use data like the number of Emergency Room (ER) visits coupled with medicine prescription data to anticipate whether a patient presents a risk of committing suicide.
These examples show how automation brought to healthcare can improve agility. After all, agility provides better data storage and management capabilities.
6. Error Minimization and Administrative Tasks Speeding
Involving humans in processes requiring computation is something that leads to an increase in error rate. Yet, bringing automation in the form of AI applications in healthcare is a direct way to minimize errors and speed up administrative task delivery. This is particularly important in the context of the number of medical error-related deaths in the United States (see Fig.6).
But with less administrative burden on the shoulders of medical professionals, they can provide better services to a greater number of patients. As a result, automated tools can boost patient experience, improve healthcare workflow analysis, and reduce the number of committed errors.
7. Quality of Services Enhancement
Nowadays, companies with expertise in building healthcare applications get the chance to enhance the overall quality of care and service provision. For instance, automation is a direct way to bring forward precise medicine in the form of accurate diagnosing and personalized treatment. Besides, with new cloud-based data management opportunities, practitioners and physicians can tap into what automated precisions medicine offers.
To name a few ways automation in healthcare can improve the quality of services, let’s focus on these two cases:
- Early disease detection. Healthtech automation systems provide the foundation for early treatment to prevent the disease from progressing. For instance, AI helps analyze vast amounts of patient data to determine if a patient has a specific condition or inclination toward a particular disease. As a result, catching diseases early on will necessarily increase the effectiveness of timely treatment.
- Medical diagnostics. Another thing is to improve the precision of diagnostics with an existing condition. Physicians can get patient data in real time, thus keeping the disease at bay and preventing it from progressing.
These two examples are only a fraction of how automation integrated into healthcare can enhance the quality of service provision. It is about more precise and in-time diagnostics, which means better and more effective treatment, which can save patient lives.
8. Smoothing Healthcare Workflows
In short, healthcare service provision includes the coordination of a myriad of different workflows. These often routine tasks are vital for patients and health providers alike. In most cases, workflow management is the approach to handling all these workflows. Besides, with the arrival of Big data, the number of workflows is even more significant.
Returning to RPA, this automation tool can improve the workflows by offloading repetitive tasks, such as:
- Logging in and logging out into an EHR.
- Searching for a patient and retrieving data.
- Typing patient notes, drug prescriptions, and medical history.
In a nutshell, RPA can do all of the above and send the needed data to both patients and practitioners. Besides, the tool helps track physician roles in real-time, providing people with different healthcare service provision opportunities.
With all the benefits in the open, there is sufficient evidence to indicate that healthtech automation systems have excellent prospects in making healthcare better, more efficient, and more precise. In such a context, patients can get high-quality care delivered seamlessly to even the most remote areas, especially with mHealth data providers. For medical staff, it means better workflows and fewer manual tasks. Finally, for practitioners and physicians, automation is all about better diagnostics, timely care provision, and accurate treatment options.
Healthcare Automation Use Cases
With all we know about healthcare automation, let’s look at several use cases. These should provide a more practical perspective on how healthtech automation systems benefits translate into real-life setting opportunities.
Data Extraction and Retrieval
With automated data storage and management, hospitals now use next-level data access and transfer tools. Once hospitals get patient health data, practitioners do not need to put the information into the database manually. Instead, automated instruments do that automatically. Then, different facilities, institutions, and departments can easily share and update the data. As a result, there are no delays in any given treatment procedure.
Along with data sharing issues, the healthcare industry suffers from data requesting issues. Often, a practitioner from one healthcare institution might request patient data from another organization or department and wait for days, sometimes weeks. With automation in healthcare, these problems can be avoided. Namely, a practitioner sends an automated request, and the EHR, aided with AI, almost immediately finds the requested patient data and sends it back to a physician. Yet, with such a system, you must always consider top-grade security measures.
The Bottom Line
Healthtech automation systems bring innovative technologies into healthcare. AI, ML, and RPA, coupled with existing frameworks healthcare organizations use, can be game-changers. The presented benefits show that almost every aspect of healthcare provision can be improved.
Automation deals with manual and repetitive tasks. It ensures medical professionals can invest their time where it is most needed. For doctors and practitioners, it provides the foundation for more accurate diagnosing. Meanwhile, patients get better care. After all, with correct automated instruments, healthcare provisions can be affordable, inexpensive, and laborious.