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By Dan Shimmerman, President and CEO, Blueprint Software Systems
In the wake of the pandemic, the healthcare sector has been hard hit by what the media has dubbed “The Great Resignation.” One in five healthcare workers has quit their jobs since February 2020, while nearly 80% of healthcare professionals have said the national worker shortage and growing labor gaps have affected them and their place of work.
Clearly, the stress of the pandemic where work-life balance was thrown into disarray due to COVID-related restrictions, work freezes, and often overwhelming workloads has pushed some healthcare workers past the breaking point. Whether desperately needing to recapture some balance in their lives lost over the past two years or simply wanting the luxury to take a break from the pressures of work, many healthcare workers have been stressed to the point where they felt their only choice was to resign.
The nature of healthcare work generally has also been identified as a contributing factor to the number of workers who have decided to rethink their careers. This is true not only for those workers dealing directly with wave after wave of pandemic-related issues, but also for those handling many of the repetitive processes at the heart of the business side of healthcare, from processing insurance forms to booking appointments and handling admissions.
Recognizing this trend and the accompanying need to involve its workforce in more engaging, mission-critical work going forward, many healthcare organizations are considering a shift to hyperautomation, an end-to-end automation toolchain through which organizations can rapidly identify, vet, and automate every structured and unstructured business process that can be automated, regardless of its complexity.
Involving the orchestrated use of multiple technologies – including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA), and business process management (BPM) – hyperautomation focuses on complete business processes rather than individual tasks. This approach enables healthcare organizations to significantly reduce the volume of front- and back-office tasks performed by administrative staff, lowering costs while vastly improving the patient experience.
With that in mind, many healthcare organizations are already leveraging process discovery technologies such as task capture in order to more rapidly deploy hyperautomation initiatives. A recent survey conducted by my own company indicates that 10% of the survey participants using process discovery technologies are in the healthcare space. Half of those organizations reported using process discovery to visualize exactly how they are operating, allowing them to make better informed decisions as to what tasks should be automated, based on criteria such as volume of work, manual effort involved, and ease of automation.
Healthcare organizations are also turning to task capture and other process discovery tools to increase task efficiency and improve output quality, regardless of whether they are looking to automate tasks or simply optimize them and retrain employees on a standard model. Similarly, process discovery technologies are enabling more tasks (and more complete tasks) to be automated, an essential step if the end goal is hyperautomation.
Process discovery is also being used by healthcare organizations to quickly capture and document all current-state processes in a central repository. With that information readily available, an organization will be able to digitize more of its tasks and proceed in deploying the critical first steps of hyperautomation, namely identification, prioritization, optimization, and design.
As healthcare organizations move steadily toward hyperautomation, the more mundane, repetitive tasks which weigh down employees will gradually be taken over by automation. This will have a huge positive impact on the employee experience, enabling workers to contribute to more strategic, engaging initiatives on a more regular basis. It will also contribute to the organization’s employee attraction and retention efforts, which have become more mission critical as increasing numbers of healthcare workers leave the profession.
Healthcare’s ability to automate more complete and complex tasks has also enabled organizations to take a more customer-centric approach in serving patients and their families, as well as other clientele. This improved customer experience typically translates into vastly faster and effective claims processing, patient processing, admissions, and appointment bookings, as well as faster responses to questions about prescriptions, procedures, and the like.
Finally, the shift to hyperautomation will translate into improved regulatory compliance. Automating task execution removes the potential for human error which, if not checked, could open the door not only to risk of non-compliance, but also to possibly severe penalties which could impact the public image and ultimately the viability of the entire organization. Obviously, this is of paramount importance in a highly regulated industry like healthcare. It also represents one of the primary reasons why improved compliance is one of the key drivers behind the adoption of hyperautomation.
The list of benefits healthcare organizations can achieve through hyperautomation will likely continue to grow as the technology becomes even more sophisticated and adoption becomes increasingly widespread. A McKinsey report estimates that a quarter of all healthcare jobs will be replaced by automation by 2030. A study by Stanford Medical, meanwhile, found that physicians, residents, and students are anticipating that a third of their duties will be automated in the next 20 years.
Given the need to adapt to this changing landscape and address the significant gaps that are already appearing within its labor force, it would appear that the time is now for healthcare organizations to make automation an integral component of its business going forward.
As President and Chief Executive Officer at Blueprint Software Systems, Dan Shimmerman is responsible for establishing Blueprint’s Enterprise Automation Suite as the world’s most powerful digital process capture, design, and management solution. With a passion for helping organizations to more efficiently design and build digital solutions that drive their digital transformation and the achievement of business goals, Dan has a proven track record of success in delivering strategic vision, execution, and value for all stakeholders. Prior to joining Blueprint, he was the President and CEO of Varicent Software, a global provider of sales performance management solutions that was acquired by IBM in 2012. For more information, visit https://www.blueprintsys.com/