4 Reasons not to Fear Automation
That is the post-Coronavirus world. We are not yet in it. We are in the transition period from pre-Covid to a post-Covid world.
We have found medical organizations falling back on manual workflows instead of automation.
Why the fear of automation
1. The situation is changing quickly
Automation often works on rules. The rules are changing so quickly, that many automation platforms, for example, robotic process automation (RPA), can’t keep up.
Let’s look at telemedicine, you may experience no telemedicine use to 100% telemed to 50% telemed on certain days without any patterns or rules to make sense.
2. Fear of job replacement
Healthcare is scared of job loss. Medical organizations don’t want to lay people off. You want to keep providing work for your staff.
3. We need the human touch
Automation isn’t robust enough to handle COVID-19 complexities. For example, you need to prescreen patients to make sure they haven’t had any symptoms.
Why you need automation now more than ever
1. Staff furloughs
Most of you are not operating at 100% staffing.
2. Loss in overall productivity
Even if you have all staff working, they might not be at 100%. They could be working remotely which brings a new set of challenges such as software not working. Or you may have people who are doing different jobs than they were trained, for example, nurses answering phones.
3. Due to an ever-changing environment, you need more patient communication than ever
With inbound phone calls on top of other day-to-day tasks, there is no way a human can keep up to monitor and make calls to fill gaps in the schedule.
4. No room for error
Every patient matters. Slots are more valuable now than ever.
How do you marry the fear of automation and the need for it?
Utilizing automation in an ever-changing environment
1. Keep your rules updated
A lesson I’ve learned every time. I love Microsoft excel. When you are organizing data, you always face this decision. Should I 1) Spend ten minutes to write an equation that will organize the data quickly or 2) should I manually enter the data, it doesn’t seem like it will take that long!
Every single time that happens, I regret not making the equation. It always always takes longer to do the manual. Don’t let ten minutes of work get in the way of hundreds of hours of savings. Human nature is to avoid work now even if it will save work later. You must fight this.
2. Use staff as backups for automation, to fix the errors
20% of the work takes 80% of the time. The areas where automation isn’t as effective are in the extreme edge cases. Those edge cases take the most time. Focus your staff on those, ensuring they have enough work to do and the patients that need extra attention, get it!
3. Don’t fear all errors
Humans make errors too. The errors to fear are ones that put patients, providers, and staff at risk. But other errors where patients call-in confused are to be expected. Remember, it’s a very small percentage of patients. You are saving hundreds, if not thousands of hours, while reaching thousands of patients you wouldn’t be able to reach!
You need to reach every patient. You need every slot filled. You need to do this quickly and safely.
Automation is your friend and it’s most important right now. Use it and you will thrive.