Could more automation be a part of the future of healthcare?

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While healthcare providers want to improve patient care, they also want to streamline processes and reduce costs. Due to this need for higher levels of efficiency, automation has gained traction when it comes to serving patients, as well as for processes carried out by physicians and nurses. For example, automating hospital inventory management can ensure that doctors have the materials they need to properly care for patients.

Automation makes life easier for everyone
As technology becomes more integrated in the upcoming years, healthcare facilities are going to rely more on automation. Charlie Whelan, senior analyst in Frost and Sullivan's healthcare group, told Modern Healthcare that the shift to a greater number of automated processes is more about creating productivity drivers for doctors and nurses - as well as enabling hospitals to save money - rather than simply trying to reduce the amount of work needed to be done. Creating efficiencies with the use of automation not only improves the bottom line for healthcare centers, but also has the potential to allow doctors to provide better care to patients outside the walls of the hospital.

Track patients after they leave the hospital
The Affordable Care Act is expected to make healthcare facilities more crowded. Keeping this in mind, doctors may want to consider putting a higher focus on managing patients after they receive care from physicians and nurses. By reducing hospital readmissions, the number of unnecessary emergency room visits and issues that can stem from uncontrolled chronic illness, healthcare centers can run much more smoothly. 

This is why the Gary and Mary West Health Institute, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and West Corporation have recently embarked on a five-year research project to see how providing real-time feedback and guidance to patients who have left the hospital can improve the quality of care. These systems can also alert care coordination teams before health issues worsen. New England Health Institute statistics show that preventing readmissions can save hospitals roughly $25 billion annually, according to a joint press release from the three organizations.

"Every segment in healthcare - payers, health systems, physicians or pharmaceutical companies - recognizes that the healthcare process must be streamlined and expedited in a way that is patient-friendly, similar to the way consumers easily buy books online from Amazon," said Tom Barker, chief executive officer of West Corporation. "Our objective is to facilitate communications around patients, care coordinators and healthcare providers by leveraging valuable content, personalization, speed, privacy and scalability."