With the sudden increase in an aging population and the upsurge in chronic diseases, the number of people who need medical assistance is on the rise. As the world’s population aged 60 years and older is expected to total 2 billion by 2050, the current staffing levels in healthcare are just not able to keep up with the demand, making affordability and accessibility of healthcare excruciatingly difficult. As cost reduction and efficiency become the top two priorities for hospitals, there is an urgent need for the healthcare industry to adopt modern IT solutions to cut costs and waste and improve efficiency and throughput.

Although automation has been able to transform operations in the manufacturing, retail, and banking sectors, it has witnessed a slow start in the healthcare industry. However, recent healthcare reforms and increased competition are compelling healthcare institutions to reduce costs and eliminate waste in care delivery. And that has brought automation into the spotlight. By using control systems and information technologies to reduce the need for human work, automation has now moved on from being a “nice to have” technology to a “must have” technology. Since there are not enough care providers to continuously monitor and check in large patient populations, automation is poised to help the industry make healthcare more affordable and accessible – for the aging population, for the chronically ill as well as for the poor. Here’s how:

How automation makes healthcare affordable

With people over the age of 65 set to outnumber children under 5 by 2020, the healthcare industry needs to pull up its socks to adapt to this new demographic trend. And as rising health costs perturb patients and care seekers alike, striking a perfect balance to provide the right care at the right price has, therefore, become extremely important. Automation can play a big role in containing rising costs and catering to a bigger volume of care seekers.

  • Traditional approaches to patient care rely heavily on human input, and are not suited for high-volume, routine clinical testing. Since only with the highest degrees of accuracy, repeatability and reproducibility can lives be saved, automation can simplify the care delivery cycle and provide significant cost savings throughout.
  • By replacing manually intensive and repetitive tasks, automation can enable the industry to eliminate the need for human assistance for every job thereby reducing staffing costs and improving efficiency of care outcomes.
  • Since automation tools are not subject to human error or fatigue, they can help provide a consistent basis of care activities – especially in the areas of medical records, order entry, and decision support that can minimize cost and complications.
  • By passing on back-office, routine tasks such as claims or new patient appointment requests to robots, doctors can use their clinical skills to better address patients’ needs and make healthcare more affordable for them.
  • Automation can make tasks incorporating multiple solutions such as patients scheduling, claims evaluation, administration and management, or clinical documentation error-free and fast; healthcare organizations can stamp out re-processing costs and substantially reduce the overall costs of healthcare.
  • Apps and other smartphone features can allow clinics to replace expensive equipment with smaller, relatively inexpensive devices, and enable patients to carry out simple tests themselves at home. Patients can save money in travel and consultation costs and also time in travelling to the hospital and waiting in the waiting room.

How automation makes healthcare accessible

Automation in healthcarecan aid in providing adequate medical care to a number of people. As an alternative to hospitalization processes, automation can make healthcare more accessible to the masses through the use of telemedicine and quality healthcare apps.

  • By providing healthcare to patients in remote places through electronic means, automation can drive relief and support almost instantaneously; many lives lost to time delays can now be saved.
  • Automation can turn a normal smartphone into a medical device; medical apps can allow patients to record vital bodily functions and send reports across to doctors for immediate diagnosis – without having to waste time or money in travelling all the way to the healthcare center.
  • By automating scheduling, healthcare organizations can reduce the time spent on administrative work such as booking appointments, answering calls and reminding patients about appointments. Patients can easily see when appointments are available and book a slot using their mobile phone – thereby increasing attendance while reducing costs.
  • Telemedicine can make healthcare more accessible to extremely sick patients or patients in rural communities, who don’t have easy access to health services; by providing healthcare services remotely, it is often cheaper than in-person visits and doesn’t require sick people to go out in public, that can endanger others.
  • By enabling policyholders to submit claims using a web portal or a mobile phone, automation can bring tremendous value in the process of claim reviews; patients can easily submit their claims and hospital staff can easily view details of the claim for quick closure.
  • Patients in rural areas no longer have to travel far distances to see specialists in urban areas; tools like video conferencing can enable primary care physicians in rural areas to consult virtually with specialists and avoid sending patients for expert consultation.
  • By eliminating the use of paper and spreadsheets and other workarounds that lead to a lot of waste, automation can accelerate the care delivery process and connect nurses and patients easily and efficiently.

Improve consistency of patient care

In the last couple of decades, digitization has made information sharing among healthcare professionals easier and has improved the efficiency of patient outcomes. Automation is further revolutionizing the healthcare industry and making it more cost-effective for organizations to run day-to-day operations. If you are looking for areas to apply automation in your healthcare environment, start by identifying standardized, repeatable processes – a common procedure that is performed on a large population of patients on a routine basis, is the best place to start. By reducing administrative workloads, automation can not only help make healthcare more affordable and accessible but also result in the elimination of waste, enhancement of information exchange, and consistency of patient care.