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How Automation Can Revolutionize Modern Healthcare

Posted by: Ashish Prajapati On June 20, 2018 03:17 PM facebook linked in twitter

While demographical factors differentiate people from the developed to the 3rd world countries, a key social indicator of how well a nation fares on the Human Development Index (HDI) is measured by the availability of quality and affordable healthcare for its people. Countries with a better HDI score tend to have higher life expectancy for its average populace resulting in more productive days per capita.

With intense R&D happening around us, we are also witnessing effective medications, modern technological interventions for non-invasive and painless procedures and development of diagnostic aids leading to early and accurate findings. The healthcare sector today is actually transforming for good.

At the same time, patients and care seekers are perturbed by rising healthcare costs. Striking a perfect balance to provide right care at the right price has therefore become a conundrum, hard to solve. Healthcare providers cite huge investments in making and justifying inflated hospital bills whereas patients and attendants often find it hard to afford them and end up paying through their noses. This is resulting in an alarming situation whereby masses feel that quality healthcare is meant for those with deeper pockets.

What we often forget in this entire eco-system is that modern technologies can be leveraged to contain rising costs and cater to a bigger volume of care seekers. As the world continues to grow, there would be an even bigger requirement of healthcare professionals which current staffing won’t be able to fulfil. In fact, available professionals are often overworked with activities that drain them, making them falter on the very essentials of healthcare, i.e. to provide quality and “the human touch”.

This takes us to the core of the problem - of being more efficient, do more with less, optimize costs and push throughputs.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Intelligent Automation is changing the way businesses operate and these advances are helping create a new generation of healthcare products, leading to improved patient experience. The use of AI is leading us to improved handling of medical records, patient management, samples analysis, drug administration, pharmacovigilance etc. These are some key areas where real opportunities exist.

An important part of the overall strategy could thus be automating repetitive, mundane and deterministic tasks and make use of AI & Machine Learning (ML) to make systems intelligent and predictive. An average hospital’s financial statement has roughly 50%-60% of their expenses as salaries and benefits outlay. Healthcare is an inflationary model, but the situation is aggravated because healthcare administrators are hiring more people rather than making the existing system efficient. There is no denying, with governments doling out healthcare benefits, the cost to the exchequer is going to be humongous.

Despite these realities, India’s National Health Protection Scheme is turning a new leaf. It brings the promise of healthcare to more than 100 million people and is purported to be the world’s largest government funded secondary and tertiary health program. Another similar example is the US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. With such scale, it is becoming imperative for healthcare providers to implement automation technologies with immediate effect.

Critics have also pointed out that automation will never be able to replace doctors and nurses and that’s not even the intent. However, automation can blend into their workflows and create a wider array of care delivery a reality, and all this without damaging the trust fabric of healthcare seekers.

Here are the top 5 benefits that can be realized by applying automation to healthcare.

1. Labor Cost Savings – Automation can be used to replace manually intensive and repetitive tasks that can be done faster and more accurately by machines. It need not eliminate resources but would certainly free their available time and upraise them into more meaningful tasks requiring human intellect and decision making capabilities. This would ensure that they are put into the right roles that make the best use of their clinical skills.

2. Improved Quality standards and consistency – Healthcare industry is sensitive to human errors and the impact of misreporting any figure could cost a human life. When the stakes are so high, quality becomes paramount. Hence it is essential to have a reliable machine which is not impacted by fatigue as we humans experience. Areas like medical records management, order entry, digitization, and sample analysis are great examples where automation can augment human capacity. As a check, we can still have people verifying the output where an automation robot has lesser confidence.

3. Higher throughout – A medical health professional can be supported by automation tools or robots to handle a larger population of in-patients at a given time. Instead of compromising on patient care or increasing spends in hiring while patient volumes grow, a robot can scale flexibly to address changing patient volumes.

4. Predictable Outcomes – When patients shadow standard care patterns and paths supported by automation, they tend to stay the course. This results in better tracking and predictable outcomes. Additionally, in case of any aberrations, the care team can be notified, and they can intervene whenever needed.

5. Patient insights and healthcare trends – Automation cannot just fasten the process and make it more accurate, but it can certainly generate a wealth of clinical research data to be used at various levels. It can be used for performance improvements, measuring recovery periods across patient samples segregated by age groups, measuring efficacy of procedures and impact of a certain drugs and their side-effects.

In a nutshell, the key towards fulfilling the rising aspirations of billions to receive quality health care can only be fulfilled when systems are made efficient, processes are reimagined, and health professionals turn more responsive and caring powered by technologies that augment human capacity.

About Author

Ashish Prajapati, Sr. Manager RPA Pre-Sales & Solutioning, Tech Mahindra

Ashish has 13+ years of experience in running business operations across multiple domains. He has deep understanding of various automation techniques, which have evolved over the time and has exposure towards Automation Technologies, Digital Customer Experience Transformation, IoT & Connected homes & offices eco-systems. He currently serves as a Sr. Manager RPA Pre-Sales & Solutioning, in RPA practice in Tech Mahindra leveraging leading RPA products of the market to design best of the breed and competitive techno-commercial solutions to wide spectrum of clients across the globe.

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