When the time comes for a business or industry to change, the process can often seem simple – Adopt the newest tech, optimize using that tech, and bring your customers better service and value. Oftentimes, this is the case; however, healthcare has always been rather hesitant in its adoption of new tech and, more specifically, healthcare automation solutions. And it isn’t a difficult task to pen up a list of reasons why providers would be averse to automation in healthcare.

Historically, patients have always preferred treatment by humans as opposed to things like chatbots. Physicians are also, understandably, incredibly averse to any kind of unnecessary risk when it comes to their patients. While new technology is implemented and staff is learning to use that tech effectively, patients can also be opened up to less efficient care which can lower satisfaction rates, increase readmissions and increase financial penalizations in turn. Not only that, automation means employing new technology which means new opportunities for cyberattacks. For this and many other reasons, many healthcare providers have simply considered healthcare automation solutions too risky to experiment with.

Of course, providers can’t keep their heads stuck in the sand forever. Healthcare is becoming a more value-based industry one that will soon see competition in the form of different hospitals vying to provide the best care possible to an increasingly more educated patient-base. Surviving this consumerization of healthcare requires healthcare workflow automation powered by tools such as medical computer systems and some patient-facing technology as well. 

Below are only a few applications of said automation that have already seen success, promise easier implementation, and also minimize risk involved in deployment across care facilities. 

1.) Robotic Automation in Healthcare

Before you go thinking “robotics” in healthcare means fully automated, humanoid, AI-powered machinery, take a deep breath. Something of that complexity would hardly be easy to implement. Fortunately, there are several applications of robotics in healthcare that stand to aid in healthcare workflow automation as well as patient treatment.

Robotics-based healthcare automation solutions such as BIONIK Labs’ InMotionARM, for example, is an incredible application of robotics that aids specifically with physical rehabilitation. With built-in AI capable of reading a patient’s movements, BIONIK’s robot can help said patient complete an array of physical tasks as part of their rehab. An application such as this not only helps patients, it eliminates the need for physicians to record detected movements. In fact, robotics such as these record anywhere between 600-1000 movements per session whereas, according to a recent interview by ZDnet, the average physician is only capable of recording 32-80 movements.

This same blending of workflow automation and patient outcome benefits can be observed in several other applications of robotics in healthcare. We see these same boons applied to healthcare robotics use cases spanning across surgery, triage, patient engagement, and more. 

2.) AI-Empowered Healthcare Automation Solutions

AI is another form of automation in healthcare that is made out to be much more complex than what its preliminary applications really are. Several facilities have seen success in implementing simple forms of artificial intelligence capable of streamlining clinical decision making. 

US San Diego Health, to take an example, was able to incorporate an AI algorithm simply by partnering with a cloud service provider. Using this new partnership, they were able to train their algorithm with over 22,000 X-ray images, notes recorded on human radiologists, and patient records in order to have the algorithm automatically detect signs of pneumonia in COVID-19 patients. While, of course, this AI’s statements can’t be taken as gospel and require a physician’s second opinion before moving on to treatment, the benefits of implementing this system, and the benefit of healthcare automation solutions like this, is that physicians are able to streamline an otherwise time-draining process while also improving patient care.

Again, like with robotics, we’re only covering a single application of AI in healthcare. One that has been implemented rather seamlessly and in response to a timely issue. Further use cases of AI towards positive patient outcomes and healthcare workflow automation can extend to triage and even patient education in the form of chatbots.

3.) Voice-Assisted Note Taking

Automation in healthcare is most exciting, by far, for its ability to address one of the most prevalent issues facing physicians and nurses today: burnout. Burnout is no news breaking headline. We’ve known its effects on care providers for some time and we’ve also known that redundancies involved in patient note taking have been the leading cause of burnout since the adoption of EHRs. Not only is it a tedious practice, it tears away a physician’s attention from the patient and forces them to focus on their computer screen. And for staff that cares first and foremost about their patients’ well beings and ensuring they feel heard and understood, this is the most draining part of EHR note recording. 

Fortunately, healthcare workflow automations such as voice-assisted note taking exist to address EHR burnout. Voice assist software takes this meandering process of recording notes and instead simply records a physician’s conversation with a patient and transcribes it, even going so far as to auto-populate patient records with key information it picks up. Much like AI, all of these recorded notes will need to be double-checked for accuracy, but any kind of streamlining for this process that is often lamented by healthcare staff can’t be understated.

We’re beginning to see several EHR providers and software developers pick up on the importance of healthcare automation solutions that hone in on this issue. With Cerner now allowing for clinicians to navigate EHR notes and search for information by simply speaking the phrase “Hey Cerner” a much more streamlined solution to manually logging notes and provider credentials for the 1,000th time that day.      

4.) Instant Info Logging With RFID

While we’re talking about logging information onto an EHR program, it would be a disservice not to bring up RFID hardware as a complement to automation in healthcare. Like voice-assisted notes, RFID allows for physicians to throw data into an EHR with minimal effort. This ease of uploading data has also been used to fuel RTLS use cases that have spiked in healthcare recently as contact tracing and remote monitoring of infectious patients in secluded rooms has become more and more necessary.

Using a portable medical cart computer with built-in RFID scanning capabilities, physicians can quickly scan in patient wristbands to update their location within a facility. These solutions can even be used to quickly scan tools and assets in and out of a system, marking them as either sanitized and ready to use or in need of cleaning. Lastly, these same RFID readers can be used to scan physicians and nurses into their EHRs, drastically cutting time spent logging credentials which has been reported as a major cause of provider burnout.

With so many different applications all centered around healthcare workflow optimization, it’s easy to see why RFID-empowered care can function as a powerful first foray into multiple healthcare automation solutions.  The best part about these RFID solutions is that they can be built into the computers and medical tablets being used by staff every day, if you work with the right manufacturer of course.  

Healthcare Automation Solutions Can be Implemented Now

There are ways to blend automation into your patient care solutions without increasing risk. The goal isn’t to plunge headfirst into becoming the hospital of the future, rather, the plan should be taking advantage of smaller automations whose benefits and ROI have already been proven. This will be the most wise course of action for those looking not to rock the boat while also preparing for future healthcare innovations sure to come in the future. For more information on how you can get started with healthcare automation solutions in your facility, contact an expert from Cybernet today.