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INTRODUCTION TO THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO HEALTHCARE AUTOMATION

Healthcare automation is the future. Automation surrounds us everyday, from self-checkout to auto park vehicles and voice-controlled lights. But healthcare has been slower to adopt than other industries. We believe it is not healthcare systems lack of drive to innovate, but the misuse of the term 'automation' by vendors that's holding automation back. This guide will help you identify true automation and prioritize which tasks you should automate.

 Like all buzzwords, automation is often over and incorrectly used. So for starters, we need to define automation vs. manual then we can explain why the advent of automation is so important for healthcare.

AUTOMATION


[aw-tuh-mey-shuh n]

the technique, method, or system of operating or controlling a process by highly automatic means, as by electronic devices, reducing human intervention to a minimum.

In English: a solution that works without human intervention.

Manual


[man-yoo-uh l]

involving or using human effort, skill, power, energy.

In English: a solution that requires human intervention.

WHAT IS TRUE HEALTHCARE AUTOMATION?

Most vendors claim they have some sort of automation so it can be hard to spot the the false automation from the true automation. Here are three simple questions to help you determine if a solution is truly automated or just has good marketing.

    1. In order for the technology to work, does it require your staff to initiate the sequence?

    Examples include, adding someone to a list or checking them in (or out), requiring patients to go to a portal or different site.

    2. Does the solution work in background or require constant attention?

    Here is a good pulse check. Ask yourself, if your staff didn't know the solution was turned on, would it still work?

    3. Does the solution complete sequence/job without intervention from staff?

    To summarize, does the solution begin, run, and end without any human interaction?

HOW DOES A HEALTH SYSTEM KNOW WHEN IT IS TIME TO AUTOMATE

With the myriad of tasks that a health system could automate, how does one prioritize which tasks to invest in technology to help support your staff. Here are three things to look for when evaluating your needs. 

    1. When a process becomes so time-consuming that it is rarely completed.

    Automating a task isn't just about saving time, it's about making sure the task is done in the first place. For instance, in our research for The Definitive Guide to Waitlists, we found that there was a common misconception that staff were using the waitlist and just not working it. In fact, there were not patients there to begin with because it was too time consuming.

    2. When the effort required to complete a process wipes out the benefit (it is not worth the work).

    Conciously or not, we often make an internal calculation. Is the work required to complete something less than the benefit I will get from such work? If the answer is no, then we often won't do it. For example, when QueueDr put together The Definitive Guide to Appointment Types, we found that most healthcare systems do not standardize their appointment types because they have trouble quantifying the benefit and weighing it versus the effort required.

    3. When an automatic solution exists that mimics and improves upon the existing best practice process.

    Schedulers at health systems have spent decades refining their workflows and have come up with some really interesting workarounds to maximize their efficiency and patient experience. Healthcare automation need not change the processes they've created, but should often mimic it. As a result, healthcare automation can incorporate the benefits of electronic automation with the best practices of manual experience.

AUTOMATION AND JOBS

Often we find people are afraid of automation because of impact on staff jobs or loss of control. However, a strong product that is truly automated will bring greater benefits to health system and your staff. Adopting automation does not mean laying off workers, but instead focusing them to work on more valuable, clinically-relevant tasks. Studies have found that after implementing a fully automated solution, staff satisfaction is improved.

To make an automated process more successful, train staff prior to roll-out. We recommend training them not only on the new technology, but how it will make their lives easier! Furthermore, talk about the benefit to patients as well and preparing them for automation. We also recommend having them trained on the new/more valuable tasks they will be performing prior to the roll-out so they can start adopting those into their schedule.

SIDE-BY-SIDE COMPARISON; A REAL WORLD EXAMPLE

What we are automating

Filling gaps in the schedule caused by patient cancellations.

Manual Solution: One solution is a manual process that reaches out to patients who sign up for the waitlist via the patient portal. 

Automated Solution: The other solution is automated solution that finds patients on the schedule, no use of the waitlist or patient portal.

What we are measuring

How many appointments can be filled by an automated process versus a manual process? Who will reach more patients to fill open appointments over the course of one month?

THE RESULTS

The Benefits of Healthcare Automation for the Waitlist

1) More Patients Reached: 18,548 
The automated solution reaches 98x more patients than the manual solution!
You will notice that the waitlist usage rate and portal engagement rate do not change the number of patients reached for the automated solution. The manual process requires staff or patients to manually add themselves to the waitlist.

2) More Revenue and Appointments Filled
Because the manual solution reaches far very patients (1% as many), the automated solution fills more appointments because it engages more patients!

CONCLUSION

Automation can provide valuable benefits for healthcare organizations of all sizes. From patient engagement and patient access to staff satisfaction and better quality control. Automation can help medical organizations run more efficiently. 

About QueueDr
Cancellations, bumps, and no-shows can wreak havoc on a medical organization’s bottom line, QueueDr fixes that. QueueDr is a web-based platform that automatically fills cancellations, reschedules no-shows and rebooks bumped appointments via text -- no apps to download. The QueueDr solution uses artificial intelligence (AI) to match patients with available appointments, filling gaps in your schedule in 3.4 minutes on average.

As the industry’s first truly automated solution, QueueDr is reducing administrative costs in healthcare and helping patients get the care they need, faster. Visit www.QueueDr.com for more information.
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