Our team recently attended an annual conference for one of the largest healthcare corporations in the world. While walking through the exhibits and talking with executives, one word kept coming up: automation. It hung over the conference like a summer fog.
Excited that QueueDr’s mission to bring automation to providers everywhere was finally being picked up by the rest of the market. We checked out all the new products that touted automation as their key feature and walked away frustrated and disappointed. It seems automation was an empty buzzword unimportant to these groups.
The Healthcare Tech industry will experience a surge in new providers offering what they consider "automation" or "automated" and bastardizing the term, so we are here to clarify what the term actually means!
Automated: Convert (a process or facility) to largely automatic operation.
What is automated technology?
If the technology replaces at least 90% of the manual process with something that requires no human involvement, then it is automated. It is not automating parts of the process, but the whole process (or at least 90%).
Example QueueDr automates the entire process of filling a cancellation from a patient being canceled, to learning about the cancellation, identifying those patients, communicating with them, and finally automatically rescheduling them for a new time slot. Our product automates 4 subprocesses to create a fully automated product.
Another Example: A product that automatically collects a patient’s co-pay from their bank account when they walk into the doctor’s office (this product does not exist, at least not that we know of). Such solution would automate the sub-processes of knowing when a patient is in the office, calculating their co-pay, charging that co-pay, and marking that down in the EHR system as paid.
What isn’t automated technology?
A technology that requires a couple fewer clicks of a mouse than a prior technology.
Example: A product where admins can check a patient’s eligibility by going to a website and getting an "automated" eligibility check instead of calling insurance companies. Incredibly valuable? Yes! Automated? No.
A technology that syncs between two systems.
Example: A patient portal system that "automatically" put an appointment booked by a patient through the portal in the provider’s schedule. You will see many patient portals brand themselves as automated in the coming years, what they really mean is integrated (which is awesome!)
A technology that automates part of a process.
Example: A reminder system that requires uploading patients to a queue who are then able to "automatically" cancel their appointment in the schedule. Part of the process is automated, the product is not automated.
Why Care So Much
I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it until it begins to shine.” – Emily Dickinson
There are two reasons for this blog post. One selfish, one altruistic.
The Selfish Reason: QueueDr has spent 4 years and thousands of hours to develop something that is fully automated. Our golden rule is that the admin must have to do nothing. When we pitch automation, we truly mean it. If the word loses meaning because it is misused, then a distrust can form of all who claim automated solutions.
The Altruistic Reason: You should know what you are buying. Consumers in the healthcare industry deserve that right. When someone says "automated", what do they mean? Is it truly "automated" or is it merely a marketing buzzword?
Hopefully, this article has given you a couple of questions to ask next time a provider mentions their "automated" solution.