Using automation in healthcare settings is paramount to solving two of the industry’s biggest challenges: administrative inefficiency and staff burnout. By automating administrative tasks and streamlining workflows, healthcare providers can enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and improve patient care. 

This article explores how automation drives efficiency in healthcare and examines the tools and strategies that can help organizations harness the benefits of automation.

What is automation in healthcare?

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Automation in healthcare is the application of technology to streamline processes, reduce manual labor, and improve overall efficiency in care delivery. It encompasses a wide range of tools and systems that can automate various tasks, from scheduling appointments and managing data to verifying insurance coverage and handling patient payments.

Rising healthcare costs, increasing demand for services, and chronic staffing shortages have put immense pressure on administrative and clinical staff. But by automating routine and repetitive tasks, healthcare organizations can reduce errors, lower administrative costs, improve productivity, and enhance operational efficiency. For example, automation can streamline the process of eligibility and benefits verification, reducing the need for manual data entry and follow-up. 

Automation tools for healthcare

Healthcare organizations today have access to a wide range of automation tools that can streamline operations and improve efficiency. Some common automation tools include:

  • Mobile registration: Mobile registration allows patients to complete registration forms and provide necessary information using their mobile devices. This eliminates the need for manual data entry by staff and reduces the risk of errors. Patients can conveniently register from anywhere, saving time and improving the overall registration process.
  • Benefits verification: Automation streamlines the process of verifying patients’ insurance benefits. Instead of manually contacting insurance providers and navigating complex systems, automation software can quickly and accurately verify patients’ coverage, eligibility, and copay information. This reduces administrative burdens on staff and ensures that patients receive accurate information about their insurance coverage before receiving care.
  • Digital billing: Automation in healthcare includes digital billing systems that generate and send electronic bills to patients. This eliminates the need for paper-based billing processes and reduces the time and effort that manual billing demands. Digital billing systems can also integrate with automated payment platforms that allow patients to conveniently make payments online, further streamlining the revenue cycle process.
  • Schedule management: Automation software can efficiently manage appointment schedules by automatically filling open slots with clinically relevant patients. This eliminates the need for staff to manually manage waitlists and make phone calls to reschedule appointments. Patients on the waitlist receive automated notifications about available slots, saving time and improving patient access to care.
  • Appointment reminders: With automation, providers can schedule a sequence of personalized reminders at the right time, using the patient’s preferred communication channel. This eliminates the need for manual outreach, saving staff time and ensuring that appointment confirmations and reminders are sent on schedule. By streamlining the reminder process, automation reduces no-shows and cancellations while decreasing the time staff spend on the phone.
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How automation creates efficiency in healthcare

One of the primary benefits of automation is its ability to fill staffing gaps. By automating processes such as patient intake, payments, and scheduling, healthcare providers can do the same amount of work—or more—without needing to find now-scarce applicants for open roles. Automation ensures that administrative tasks are handled efficiently and effectively, even when healthcare organizations are short-staffed.

Automation also plays a significant role in reducing staff burnout, which is largely caused by heavy workloads and monotonous tasks. By automating manual processes, such as appointment confirmations and reminders, administrative staff are freed from time-consuming and repetitive tasks. This enables them to dedicate their time and energy to more meaningful patient interactions and critical thinking, ultimately improving job satisfaction and reducing burnout.

Front-office efficiency is another area where automation shines. Instead of manually scheduling appointments and checking patients in, administrative staff can automate those tasks to streamline operations and save valuable time. Online appointments and mobile registration empower patients to take control of their healthcare journey, while staff can focus on complex tasks and enhance patient satisfaction.

Automation also improves patient engagement by providing digital solutions that complement human-to-human interactions. Engaged and activated patients are more involved in their care, leading to better health outcomes and quality of care. Automation enables the delivery of personalized patient-reported outcome assessments and post-visit surveys, allowing providers to gather valuable insights and tailor their care accordingly.

Furthermore, automation simplifies revenue cycle processes, such as benefits verification and online billing. By automating these tasks, healthcare organizations can improve time-of-service collections, reduce costs, and enhance overall revenue cycle efficiency.

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3 tips for helping staff adapt to using automated tools for healthcare administration

  1. Provide comprehensive training: One of the biggest challenges in implementing automation is ensuring that staff members are comfortable and competent using the new tools. That’s why it’s essential to provide thorough training on how to use the automated system, including any technical skills staff may need. The training should cover all system updates or modifications so that staff are well-informed.
  2. Encourage open communication: It’s crucial to create a culture of open communication and encourage staff members to ask questions and voice any concerns they may have about using the automated system. This will not only help address any issues or challenges they may experience, but also foster an environment of collaboration and teamwork. Additionally, regular check-ins and feedback sessions with staff can help healthcare organizations identify any areas that need improvement and provide opportunities for further training and support.
  3. Address potential resistance: Some staff members may be resistant to the idea of using automation, fearing that it will replace their jobs or make their work more challenging. It’s essential to address these concerns and reassure staff that the automated system is meant to assist and streamline their tasks, not replace them. Emphasize the benefits of automation, such as freeing up time for more meaningful work and reducing the likelihood of human error. By addressing potential resistance and any fears or concerns, you can help ease the transition to automation and ensure your staff feels supported.

Conclusion

With the right approach, automation can greatly benefit healthcare organizations and ultimately improve patient care. Looking for the right tool for your organization? Phreesia provides automation tools for healthcare organizations of all sizes. Learn more at Phreesia.com.

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