Automation and Digital Tools Help Address Provider Workflow Challenges

Patty Riskind

Responses by Patty Riskind, CEO,  Orbita.

It might be a new year, but healthcare is dealing with old problems:

Too much time spent on administrative tasks. Staff struggling to keep up with high call volumes. Patients waiting too long for care or falling through the cracks altogether. Services delayed or cancelled because patients were not appropriately prepared.

It’s past time for healthcare to adopt workflow automation and patient self-service tools to address these challenges. Other industries embraced these options years ago, documenting better performance and higher satisfaction among staff and consumers.

Where do bottlenecks occur and what solutions are available to improve workflows related to the patient care journey?

Obstacles impede these pathways in two significant ways:

How can these tools support the complex nature of healthcare, as well as ensure the information provided is accurate?

Early generations of chatbots failed healthcare. Rarely did they provide patients the information they needed, resulting in dead ends, inaccurate answers and an unacceptable level of drop-offs.

But today’s virtual assistants and online tools are smarter and more responsive. Developers leverage conversational AI so patients can pose questions in the words and phrases they are comfortable with. Interactive dialogs probe for more details to add context. This means the virtual assistant can zero in on the precise answer the patient is looking for.

In addition, best-of-breed vendors use generative AI to consume a broad range of documents – not only existing website content, but patient education materials, videos, spreadsheets and more. The virtual assistant draws upon a more comprehensive library of source materials and presents a complete answer. These tools only use information approved and vetted by the provider to ensure accuracy.

Patients need to complete diverse steps to prepare for surgery or other services. Required activities include insurance verification, consultation appointments, education and procedure prep. How can automation streamline these, especially across legacy solutions the provider already has in place?

Three key attributes contribute to the success of these automated workflows.

Are patients truly ready to use digital and self-service tools for their healthcare?

Without a doubt! In fact, many express dissatisfaction with “old school” approaches like needing to call a provider to make an appointment or filling out forms multiple times for different departments. Today’s consumers have gotten used to conducting virtually all their business online or through text: banking, travel arrangements, retail shopping. They do not understand why healthcare can’t provide the same convenience.

Interestingly, this holds true for all age groups. The misconception that senior citizens won’t use digital tools has been disproven many times over. One organization on the West Coast, for example, researched which patients used automated processes to schedule appointments, complete educational materials and prepare for procedures. Eighty-eight percent of all patients found the digital tools easy to use and 76 percent of patients older than 80 used the solutions successfully.

Providers have heard these claims before – that software solutions can improve performance. Where is the proof?

Talk is cheap, but providers have measured and documented notable results.

Performance, productivity and profitability can all be improved if health providers begin to leverage the full breadth of digital tools and automated solutions available to them. The most reputable vendors can support existing workflows (or even find ways to streamline historical processes) and implement new functionality with little or no disruption to current staff activities. When benchmarks are established and baseline metrics documented at the outset, return on investment can be proven within a relatively short period of time.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *