Applying The Lessons of Digital Technology in a Post-Pandemic World

Automation has proven to be a digital ally in hospitals and health systems over the last year. The trends around Robotic Process Automation (RPA) were accelerated during the pandemic, and there is no reason to believe the surge in adoption will slow down. Hospital and health system CEOs are leading their organizations by implementing tools like RPA to organize, input, and expedite data, removing roadblocks, improving time constraints, and making a process like vaccine registration flow smoothly from start to finish.

It’s been incredibly rewarding to see the value of technology tools in healthcare. How do we continue this momentum in a post-pandemic world? By reevaluating the use of technology tools like RPA, healthcare organizations will be better prepared for the future, and the challenges that accompany it. Many of the areas that were previously not considered as “first round” areas for an automation project will be up for reconsideration.

Vaccine Registration

The simple act of registering a patient can require 40+ data entry steps. Everything from demographics, insurance information, allergies, medications, facility codes, location of care, and more. If you participate in the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program, reimbursement is based on the patients’ private insurance, Medicare, or uninsured rates. Boston WorkStation navigates and automates the registration and reimbursement requirements, without additional administrative time, FTEs, or claim resubmissions. This same theory can be applied to additional areas in healthcare that require portal access, multiple steps in data entry, and interoperability challenges with the Electronic Health Record (EHR).

The Changing Paradigm of Care

Virtual healthcare was boosted by the pandemic, and some are projecting that as we return to in-person care, about one-third of patient visits will remain virtual. Telescope Health, a telemedicine provider in Northeast Florida, chose Boston WorkStation to automate patient registration and order entry during the height of the crisis. Telescope went from a high-touch, low-volume, concierge telemedicine service to seeing upwards of 7,000 patients within a 6-week period.

Lab orders went from a mere 30 per day, skyrocketing upwards to 600 per day, slowing the registration and order entry process, and making the manual data entry process impossible to sustain. A process that previously included 5-20 steps of data entry for each manual patient registration was automated and scaled to over 200 providers, within a matter of weeks. What began as a process requiring 5 FTEs working three shifts around the clock, was reduced to one part-time employee in an oversight role. The same process can be applied to future mobile site testing and telehealth connectivity roadblocks within the EHR.

It’s About People

One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned from COVID-19 is that when tested, we can accomplish some pretty amazing things. A recent McKinsey study on “CEO Leadership in a New Era” stated, “CEOs are recognizing that the barriers to boldness and speed are less about technical limits and more about such things as mindsets toward what is possible, what people are willing to do, and the degree to which implicit or explicit policies that slow things down can be challenged.”

We have witnessed profound innovation at a speed and scale that we never imagined. As we move forward in a post-pandemic world, we must keep challenging ourselves to uncover additional use cases with the same veracity, and apply them to other areas of the healthcare continuum. The organizational adjustments that healthcare leadership made led to decision-making and new developments that hold great promise for the future. We just have to apply the lessons learned, and keep moving innovation forward.

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