In the past decade, the digitization of healthcare has advanced by leaps and bounds. Yet, even though healthcare systems worldwide have adopted things like Electronic Health Records and telehealth services in record numbers, we are only beginning to scratch the surface of what medical computers and tablets can offer. With the embrace of digital technology only hastening as a result of the pandemic, clinics everywhere are starting to see how automation can streamline care and save them money.

COVID-19 and the Rise of Touchless Healthcare

COVID-19 forced healthcare facilities all over the globe to adapt quickly to a new reality. Many of these changes made headline news as hospitals scrambled to prepare extra ICU space for a massive influx of patients severely ill with a novel disease we were only learning how to treat. However, these high-profile changes were just the tip of the iceberg.

SMS Chatbots & Check-In Kiosks

One area where automation has made a considerable difference in the covid area is patient check-in and wait times. In a world where indoor space becomes increasingly dangerous as more people enter it, waiting rooms cannot exist. For one, administrative staff handling check-ins would be at high risk from constant interaction with every patient who enters the building. 

Healthcare facilities can turn to automated check-in systems that begin the process even before the patient shows up at the clinic. HIPAA compliant SMS chatbots can both check patients in and ask them questions about their symptoms before a patient has even left their home and can alert them when the doctor is ready while they wait in their cars instead of in the clinic.

Unfortunately, not all patients are responsive to text messages, so many facilities have turned to automated check-in kiosks based on touch-screen medical computers in their waiting rooms. These devices are rated IP65 and can be sprayed down and disinfected between uses. Of course, these changes not only help keep staff safe but also save money in the long run by eliminating check-in paperwork. Now everything is filled out digitally on the screen and automatically added to a patient’s EHR, saving money on printing costs and paper while reducing data-entry errors that can make insurance and medicare reimbursements much more difficult.

Automated Patient Flow

Streamlining the check-in process addresses only part of the problem, however. Once patients are checked in, facilities need to minimize wait times to prevent a crowd from building up in the waiting room. As mentioned above, one solution to this is having patients wait in their cars; however, in many localities, in particular large cities, parking is scarce if non-existent, and many patients do not own cars. 

In those situations, hospitals and clinics can utilize the Internet of Medical Things to automate their bed management. The system can instantly detect when a bed is ready for a new patient using an array of wifi-enabled weight sensors and smart cameras. When a bed is open, a signal is sent to the check-in kiosk, which algorithmically determines which patient has priority and alerts them that a doctor is ready to see them. By cutting wait times, hospitals can increase the number of patients they see in a day and therefore the amount of money they can take in. 

Rural and Remote Care

Automation, when combined with telehealth technology, can help greatly expand care in rural areas. In remote areas where broadband internet access is limited, automated SMS chatbots like those mentioned above can help provide basic symptom analysis and care without human interaction. 

Medical tablets with built-in LTE capability afford rural healthcare providers a level of mobility previously unimaginable. Now, facilities can dispatch medical technicians or fleets of mobile kiosks, equipped with powerful portable computing technology, that can securely send and receive patient data from the cloud.

This level of mobility, combined with automated charting and billing, can save rural clinics massive amounts of money in labor, overhead, and administrative waste. Instead of a network of remote brick-and-mortar clinics that cost money to keep up and staff, a clinic can serve a massive geographical area with a simple chatbot and few technicians armed with mobile tablets.

Automated Administration

While the medical field has been quick to adopt remote-care technology in the wake of COVID-19, underneath it all is an administrative framework that still primarily runs on paper. The percentage of physicians who reported using telehealth technology increased to 80% during the pandemic, while the share utilizing automation to handle things like prior authorizations only increased to 21%

It’s not unheard of for a start-of-the-art facility to feature the latest gadgets and gizmos in the exam room but still submit insurance claims one at a time via fax. All of this paper creates a massive amount of redundancy and waste. In fact, by automating the following eight administrative transactions, the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare estimates the US healthcare system could save $13.3 billion annually:

  • Eligibility and benefit verification
  • Prior authorization
  • Claim submission
  • Attachments (documentation included in medical records)
  • Benefit coordination
  • Claim status inquiry
  • Claim payments
  • Remittance

Mobile Clinic Eliminates Paperwork to Bring Care to the Homeless

Covenant Community Care, a Detroit-based non-profit community health center that serves the homeless, uses medical tablets to eliminate paperwork in their mobile health clinic. Because their mobile clinic is based out of a van, paperwork was causing them massive headaches. Not only is it challenging to get homeless patients to fill out paper forms, the information then had to be manually re-entered in their central EMR system back at their brick-and-mortar clinics. 

However, once they upgraded their system with LTE-enabled medical tablets that could wirelessly link to their EMR network, the situation changed dramatically. Within a short few months, they were able to eliminate their paperwork backlog. Not only that, by streamlining the process, they were able to enroll more people than they had ever been able to for Medicare, significantly increasing their billing, and were recognized as a Federally Qualified Health Center for the first time.

Final Thoughts

By embracing automation, healthcare providers everywhere can save considerable amounts of money by streamlining care and administrative processes. If you’re interested in seeing how medical computers and tablets can help your bottom line, contact the experts at Cybernet Manufacturing today!