What is workflow automation in healthcare?

September 12, 2019

Workflow automation is exactly what it sounds like. Using technology to automate repetitive workflows, organizations can dramatically streamline and standardize high-volume workflows to improve efficiency in almost every industry, including healthcare. As a healthcare technology, workflow automation is critical to organizational success. That’s because health systems today have more programs, disparate systems, and data requirements than ever before. And while these systems have great promise and potential, the benefits are often outweighed by the time and effort required to manage them. That’s where workflow automation comes in. By decreasing manual effort, reducing errors, increasing capacity, and speeding up many of the administrative processes weighing down our healthcare organizations, the industry has already seen enormous benefits from the efficiencies of workflow automation.

Workflow automation & artificial intelligence

Advances in artificial intelligence technologies, such as computer vision (CV) and machine learning (ML), have greatly increased the number of potential candidate workflows that can be automated. Before CV and ML, workflow automation was limited to simple tasks that could be handled by robotic process automation (RPA). But with CV and ML, artificial intelligence can use computer vision for more sophisticated data recognition and can actually learn and improve processes through historical data. What are some of the candidate processes that workflow automation and artificial intelligence are tackling? Patient scheduling, revenue cycle management, IT, billing, supply chain, inventory management, and human resources are just a few of the areas that are already benefiting from artificial intelligence and workflow automation technology. But there are too many capabilities to mention, and more possible candidate processes for automation are being developed every day.

Benefits of workflow automation in healthcare

Already, workflow automation technology has the potential to completely overhaul your healthcare information management processes, reducing staff burnout, increasing revenue, and improving interoperability. Reduces staff burnout Staff burnout hurts morale, patients, and the bottom line. By reducing the time spent by clinical and non-clinical staff on manual, repetitive workflows, healthcare employees can focus on higher level initiatives that require a human touch and creativity. For example, it can take over the entire claim status check process, freeing up staff to address more complicated billing cycle issues. Effective cost containment Wouldn’t it be great to implement a cost containment strategy that actually improved operations, instead of trying to cut overhead or negotiate pennies on supply costs? With workflow automation, organizations can reduce the operational inefficiencies that lead to waste throughout the system. For example, it reduces claims denials by eliminating human error and drastically increasing capacity. Improves interoperability Healthcare desperately needs interoperability, but with dozens of siloed programs and legacy systems, everyone struggles to achieve it. By automating the pull and entry of data from one program to another, without having to add yet another system, complete interoperability is closer to reality with the assistance of AI and workflow automation as it becomes a key Epic integration tool with other EMR and EHR technologies.

Data security & workflow automation

Data security should always be top-of-mind for any healthcare leader evaluating a new technology. We’ve talked before about the importance of working with technology vendors who are healthcare-specific, and workflow automation vendors are no exception – it’s the best way to ensure critical healthcare data security. Workflow automation can help increase data security at your organization, as many security and privacy vulnerabilities are due to human interaction. By reducing the amount of human contact and manual manipulations of the data, you can actually improve security and reduce your organization’s overall risk.

Are you on track with healthcare automation?

Workflow automation today is not about creating robots that replace human work – it’s about empowering employees to turn their focus from a mountain of digital paperwork to creating an organization that delivers the best possible care. If your organization is not taking advantage of today’s workflow automation tools, you’re at risk of being left behind as automation technology improves – the time to implement sophisticated workflow automation is now. At Olive, we automate healthcare’s most costly, high-volume tasks using sophisticated artificial intelligence capabilities: robotic process automation, computer vision, and machine learning. Olive takes workflow automation to the next level by increasing the complexity of workflows that can be automated as well as proactively identifying areas for opportunity and potential problems to correct. Contact us today to learn more about how Olive can help your organization implement workflow automation.