Are robots taking over the world? New, sophisticated automation built on deep learning, machine learning, and artificial intelligence can produce accurate work at incredible speeds – results that outperform the best human workers. What threats does automation pose and what can I do about it?
According to a survey conducted in 2020, 90% of large healthcare organizations say they have an AI and automation strategy. By comparison, in 2019 this number was 53%. Moreover, 66% were familiar with robotic process automation in 2020, an increase from 50% in the preceding year. *Source: Statistica
Automation improves efficiency, production, and quality at lower costs. Simply put, the goal of automation is to improve efficiency by making routine tasks faster to perform, with greater accuracy at a lower cost.
Where workers may have once performed largely repeatable and mundane tasks, smarter, better jobs are required to oversee automated processes to make sure they function properly. Without continued oversight of these processes and updates to them as regulation or business requirements demand, they will not work. Therefore, human oversight of automation is required. Workers must be able to adapt and get the required training to manage automation.
By way of example, seventy-five years ago if an irrigation trench needed to be dug, it would have been done by hand, using pick and shovel. Today, individuals can go the local hardware store and rent a Ditch Witch. The Ditch Witch versus the pick and shovel is not much of a race. The Ditch Witch wins every time. It is the human however, who must still operate the "machinery," be it Ditch Witch or pick and shovel. This example may seem overly simplified, especially for tasks involving healthcare; but the concept is the same.
At Vee Technologies, we use the pictogram (right) to illustrate the demarcation between human and machine. We use the mythological creature, the centaur (half human, half horse) to explain. Humans apply wisdom and judgement to solve unstructured problems which machines cannot handle. Machines are used to repeat fast, logical actions and they can predict a range of likely outcomes using historical data as a basis for the prediction of future events. These projections improve over time as deep learning and machine learning are employed. Even so, human interaction is needed for the outliers, the unstructured data the machine does not know how to process on its own.
Automation to Improve Patient Care
We know the more precise and accurate a patient’s health record, the better care they will receive from their care team. Better care starts with better data - a simple concept, but quite complex within the realm of healthcare.
The complexity is due to the intricacy of a patient’s diagnosis, as well as the use of information technology accurately capturing a patient’s precise health circumstance by applying a series of medical codes and free-form notes. With Vee Technologies, our clients are more effective at providing cohesive and effective care to patients in situations from the simple to the complex.
As the U.S. healthcare system continues its evolution from fee for service to value based care, automation can help improve patient outcomes. Processes that once required massive manpower to perform are now streamlined by using technology. We can use a combination of robotic process automation, deep learning, and machine learning to help our clients perform vital aspects of care coordination and management.
For instance, using technology, we can proactively identify patients who have a risk-factor of falling ill to a chronic condition. Applying the latest technology, we can quickly review years’ worth of a patient’s medical records for diagnostic information indicating health conditions that need to be monitored. Part of this process includes identifying risk-adjusting codes and making certain all diagnostic codes are accurately captured. This process helps in a few ways. It ensures accuracy of a patient’s record so that clinical indicators are correctly captured, it facilitates proper reimbursement from payers, and it enables a better continuity of care. As the patient’s record is improved, so too is continuity of care. The next provider in a patient’s care team can perform better service with better information since every aspect of a patient’s record is up to date and accurate. Again, better data means better, more accurate patient information. Better information means that physicians can provide better care. Better information in a patient’s record also means that care can be better coordinated between multiple providers.
In conclusion, automation is here to stay. It will continue to progress, and its capabilities will continue to grow. Technology enables work efficiency and throughput with fewer errors. Humans are needed to manage the processes and the technologies. The result will be lower costs, faster processing of data, easier healthcare administration, improved care coordination between providers and better health outcomes for patients.