Automation has disrupted many industries, and improved productivity by doing away with tasks that involve a high level of physical work and repetitive tasks. Healthcare is also benefiting from automation. One of the most common examples of automation in healthcare the development of voice recognition systems that instantly transform physician dictation into readable text. With speech recognition technology, the role of medical transcription services has morphed into editing machine-generated transcripts.
In healthcare, automation is helping to simplify core processes and improve the provision of care. Using advanced technologies and software can help small practices address many of their common challenges, such as rising administrative burden, decreased time with patients, increased regulatory requirements, and much more. Using the right technologies can help small practices simplify processes, better handle these challenges and save time and money.
Processes That Small Medical Practices are Automating
There are many types of software that can make a difference in the way small medical practices operate. Success depends on choosing the options that can enhance operational efficiency, increase return on investment, and save time. Here are the areas that small practices can automate:
- Appointment scheduling: The front desk is a great place to start automation. Scheduling appointments and sending appointment reminders is a time-consuming and tedious task for front desk staff. When done manually, these tasks can involve spending hours calling up patients to arrange or rearrange time slots, even as patients are waiting in line at the practice. Leveraging automation for managing appointments can make a big difference to both patients and providers:
- correctly schedules/reschedules/cancellation of appointments without long wait times or confusion about dates
- allows patients to schedule at a convenient time, day or night, with no busy signals or wait on hold
- patient can make real-time updates to their appointment
- providers can set up auto-confirmations and appointment reminders
- enables high volume scheduling with consistent efficiency
- provides data in digital format
Automated appointment scheduling frees up valuable staff time, enhances practice efficiency and improves patient satisfaction.
- Data retrieval and sharing: Over the last decade, medical practices of all sizes have implemented electronic health records (EHRs) to provide care and obtain and share valuable data on patients. Today, EHRs are being integrated with advanced capabilities to generate data real-time, allowing providers to get the current, complete and accurate information they need instantly. Automation has improved EHR data retrieval and patient care.
- Ordering and billing: Automation can be used to support key processes like ordering and billing. Predictive AI technologies can ensure that orders are completed with greater efficiency and speed. E-prescribing has become standard practice for many medical specialties. Prescriptions are sent to the pharmacy electronically from the point of care. E-prescribing can reduce the abuse and addiction rates of opioids and other controlled substances. Also, with electronic prescriptions, the EHR can automatically check for any potential drug reactions or allergies that could occur based on a patient’s current medication and diagnosis.
Medical billing is becoming more and more challenging by the day due to increased patient financial responsibility, complex payer contracts, and the change to value-based payments. Artificial intelligence (AI) is proving a game changer in revenue cycle management, making bill generation easier, faster, and error-free.
- Practice management: Automating practice management with practice management software combines many functions and offers many advantages: streamlined processes and improved workflow across the entire practice, boost efficiency, and improved patient engagement and care. A well-implement, efficient system can grow your practice’s bottom line. As costly, incongruous systems can clutter operations and unnecessarily increase spending, a Medical Economics article recommends that practices should evaluate the software their practice uses and ensure it is working efficiently. If not, they should replace it with a cohesive, all-in-one solution.
- Documentation tasks: Voice recognition technology is widely used to automate provider dictation and capture clinical information fast in real time. Best practice is for clinicians to document the patient consultation as close to the end of the appointment as possible. Even if they take brief notes, clinicians need to accurately describe the encounter. The main advantage of voice recognition is that it can be easily accessed from anywhere, anytime. However, as machine-generated documentation has possibility for errors, providers should ensure that it is vetted by a reliable medical transcription service provider.
- Tracking patient health: Smartwatches, wearable medical devices, and smart thermometers collect data on pulse and blood pressure, heart activity, and temperature to identify illness and disease clusters. IoT (internet of things) enabled devices allow physicians to track patient health remotely and help them deliver care to keep patients safe and healthy. As with EHRs, healthcare providers should be aware about the data security concerns surrounding IoT.
- Patient communications: Using chatbots is an effective way to answer common patient questions and to schedule appointments. Chatbots use machine learning and AI to simulate human communication, either through voice or text communication. During the coronavirus pandemic, chatbots were widely used in mental health care. Mental healthcare bots use cognitive behavioral therapy and apply techniques to help clients improve their mental health
Automation redefines healthcare by improving diagnosis, clinical decisions, and care and treatment outcomes. Technology reduces costs for patients, streamlines processes and workflows, and enhances both the provider and patient experience. Medical transcription outsourcing can help providers ensure accuracy in documentation created using voice recognition technology. With the many challenges that they faced over the past two years, healthcare practices need to ensure that they are using the right tools and strategies to deliver better care, improve patient satisfaction, and boost their bottom line.