As more and more patients have walked through the doors of hospitals and clinics over so many years, vast amounts of information has been amassed, which all needs to be carefully recorded, stored, shared and processed. This has led to a layering up effect of workflows and processes within healthcare systems that have typically relied on whatever immediately available and familiar method of processing “paperwork” was available at the time.
Due to a practical lack of time in a 24/7 operation under constant pressure to maintain service, together with hugely challenging budgetary constraints, healthcare has often missed out on the opportunity to design better. Despite these pressures, people working in healthcare always seem to overcome, never more evident than in 2020.
The superhuman effort needed by healthcare workers, however, to succeed against all odds is increasingly taking its toll. Mental health and stress within the workforce are significant issues whilst a lack of fast access to information cost lives and impacts patient care. Highly skilled frontline staff spend significant time both obtaining and recording information, impacting on their ability to deliver skilled, human care to patients.
Implemented correctly, process automation has the ability to change this by freeing skilled healthcare resources from robotic admin work. Healthcare organisations can vastly reduce the time needed to process information; improving patient/staff experience and reducing cost.
As automation has evolved to be a mainstream topic of conversation in how the world goes to work, technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) have begun to gain traction in the healthcare sector. This has resulted in a shifting culture with the question "how can we automate this?" increasingly a question being asked by different departments. This shift in thinking and approach is welcome. It will ultimately drive much needed efficiency at a time that healthcare needs it more than ever.
However, with a gloomy financial outlook, it is vitally important that process automation and interoperability programmes within healthcare are well informed of the pitfalls experienced in industries where automation is more mature and the hard learning has been done already.