Focusing solely on operational automation negates its power to close care gaps in the health care.
Automation is often thought of mainly operational (i.e., automating revenue cycle). While revenue cycle and operational automation are important, automation has the capacity to improve health care delivery outside of these functions.
With so much room for human error and excess time spent on administrative tasks, there is a need and an opportunity to streamline these tasks to help staff work at top of license, lower workforce turnover, avoid CMS penalties, and allow clinicians to spend more time with patients. One of the most impactful outputs of automation lies in its ability to close care gaps in care coordination, and medication reconciliation.
The problem starts with data entry.
A limiting factor of ensuring care gap closure is the time and energy staff must spend entering data into the EMR, which takes away from staff's ability to interface with higher touch patients. This is due in part to the impact of data entry into the EMR. Frequently, the data entering the EMR is "dirty", meaning data that is inaccurate, incomplete, or inconsistent.
Issues that emerge from working with dirty data include incomplete EMR records, duplication of medical records, and increased workload. Adding the burden of filtering this data increases the possibility of issues pertaining to medical entry. If a bot is collecting the data, and a human doesn't need to input the information, there is a lower likelihood that the information will be incorrect and care teams can focus on closing care gaps.
The solution starts with automation.
With automation, the workload burden on staff is greatly reduced and enables them to focus on care gap closures. For example, automation helps close care gaps because it puts care teams' top-of-license attention on the right patient instead of on the work of data lookup. Not only is time saved for the care team, but it ensures the patient is receiving the right kind of treatment and expedites care coordination.
Automation platforms can also send outreach to lower risk patients so that the care team can focus on reaching out to higher risk individuals and closing care gaps. Here are 2 ways that manifests across care coordination and medication reconciliation.
1. Care coordination
With automation, care coordination is made far easier. Automation platforms can take on the work traditionally performed by clinicians and staff to allow them to focus less on "librarian" administrative tasks. For instance, automation platforms can send out appointment reminders to patients, as well as automate intake forms and digitize them for easier access within hospital EMR systems. Automated patient intake forms have the capacity to be in a diverse range of languages outside of English and can continuously be updated to reflect patient needs.
Giving patients access to information in their preferred or native language means that forms will be filled out correctly and make clear to patients what information is needed. For hospital staff, this greatly reduces the potential of incorrect patient information.
In terms of appointment reminders and other aspects of care coordination, automation again relieves staff workload, and ensures that certain patients do not fall through the cracks because these types of outreach are automatically generated, and often do not require the time it takes to contact patients, specifically lower risk patients, directly.
2. Medical reconciliation
Medical reconciliation powered by automation helps eliminate the risk of incorrect prescriptions, overprescribing, and medication abuse. Effective medication management is of the utmost importance in preventing adverse drug events, which are dangerous for patients and costly for health systems. For instance, when an automation platform is used for prescribing medication, the platform can show where and for whom certain medications could be dangers, i.e., opioid abuse.
Systems want zero adverse drug events in the same way that they want to avoid CMS penalties. Penalties are simply less likely to happen where there are fewer errors in data entry. When systems are at risk, the importance of having a platform that helps prevent ADEs and penalties is paramount. For example, if a clinician is going to write a controlled substance prescription, they are required to ping the state database that houses the script CS data and allows them to enter in prescriptions.
If the connections in the system haven't be made correctly, this can be 2-3 step process for the clinician. With automation, the risk of incorrect connections within prescribing platforms is greatly reduced, and it minimizes the number of steps and time it takes clinicians.
Through automation, care coordination and closing care gaps becomes easier, helps eliminate human risk, prevents CMS penalties, avoids things like ADEs, and prevents patients from being lost in the system.