Automation has begun to appear in nearly every industry in various capacities. It has even started to impact medicine and health care, benefiting patients and practitioners. Here’s how automation increases safety and productivity for medical professionals in this sector.
Reducing medical errors
Medical errors can be dangerous and costly for physicians and patients. Doctors and other professionals in the medical industry are often overworked — at their core, they’re only human. The COVID-19 pandemic only worsened this situation.
These errors aren’t usually malicious, but they can still seriously harm the patient. Automation helps protect people from these errors and keeps staff members from overworking themselves, which could lead to medical errors.
Preventing staff burnout
Burnout is a growing problem, especially in high-stress fields like medicine. Research shows that it can take three to five years to recover once someone is in complete burnout. It’s not a medical diagnosis, but the WHO classifies it as an “occupational phenomenon” — a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
Automation can take over some of the repetitive tasks that come with patient care — such as keeping track of paperwork and scheduling follow-up visits. This lets doctors spend more time caring for their patients and themselves.
Enticing new employees to the field
Bringing new blood into the health care industry will be essential to maintain patient care. Adopting automation and similar technologies is a fantastic way to get young new workers into the fold.
A survey conducted by Dell found that 80% of Gen Z aspire to work with cutting-edge technology, and 91% say that access to technology in the workplace influences their job choice. Bringing in this new technology means hiring people who understand how it works will also be necessary. For medical facilities that are struggling to fill job openings, it’s a win-win scenario.
Improving quality and consistency
Human error is a perpetual problem in medical and lab settings. Mistakes can delay patient treatment or even provide incorrect results, depending on the severity of the problem. Automation can improve the quality and consistency of lab test results.
Additionally, the introduction of automation can help reduce costs and improve reimbursements. Since the implementation of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) in 2014, labs have seen an average 35% reduction in reimbursement for tests. This trend is expected to continue through 2023. Automation reduces costs and provides more accurate results in the long run.
Creating data-driven insights
The health care industry already generates massive amounts of data every day. Patient demographics, test results, vital signs and more are all stored in electronic health records. Once separated from any identifying information, this information could also help provide data-driving insights that can improve patient care.
Automated machine-learning systems can sort through these data points, identifying patterns that a human observer might miss. It can also accomplish these tasks in a fraction of the time it would take a human analyst.
Increasing inter-specialty communication
One of patients’ most significant challenges is a lack of inter-specialty communication. Instead of being able to access electronic health records remotely, specialists are often required to request copies of these files. This lack of communication can delay treatments or even result in a misdiagnosis. Automated data delivery can mitigate some of this delay by automatically providing pertinent information to each professional involved in the patient’s care.
Improving health care with automation
Automation has been a dirty word, with these programs accused of stealing jobs and increasing unemployment. In reality, it will help ease the burden of care on medical professionals moving forward. Adopting this technology requires spending on equipment, software and people trained to operate these systems, but the return on investment is well worth the expense.