Alleviate the healthcare staffing crisis with automation

Published: July 27, 2023 by Experian Health

Alleviate the healthcare staffing crisis with automation-blog

The healthcare staffing crisis was one of the biggest challenges facing healthcare providers pre-pandemic, only to be exacerbated by the pressures of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. Almost a fifth of healthcare workers resigned between February 2020 and September 2021. Unfortunately, the problem isn’t in the rearview mirror yet – a new study from McKinsey reveals that worker shortages persist, with 31% of nurses declaring their intent to leave their jobs in the next year. These shortages put pressure on remaining staff, compromise hiring efforts and make high-quality services difficult to maintain. Without a thriving, vibrant workforce, how can healthcare providers meet the needs of their patients?

Can automation help address the healthcare staffing crisis?

Stubborn staff turnover levels aren’t unique to healthcare, but addressing them is even more critical, given the detrimental effect on patients. As the staffing crisis shows no signs of letting up,providers should consider how technologies that leverage automation and AI can help. Tom Cox, President at Experian Health, says, “Automation has transformed many aspects of healthcare, from driving down appeals and denials to improving the digital front door. We’re now seeing AI starting to make waves, too. These technologies are the future and are changing healthcare for the better.”

Opening healthcare’s digital front door is a good place to start. By eliminating repetitive and time-consuming tasks like data entry, manual patient registration and prior authorizations, staff will be freed up to focus on what matters most: delivering high-quality patient care. Here, we look at three areas where automation can simultaneously alleviate the burden of staff shortages and create a better patient experience.

Use case 1: automate patient access to manage the growing demand for services

Manual and repetitive processes eat up valuable time and create greater workloads that contribute to staff burnout. This is especially true in patient access, which is a typically admin-heavy process. Allowing patients to complete more of their registration and scheduling tasks themselves can reduce the workload in understaffed teams.

Many patients prefer not to book appointments through call centers, and high call volumes are a major pressure point for staff. Similarly, manual patient registration is labor-intensive and error-prone, eating up staff time and creating bottlenecks for patients. Automated registration and self-scheduling solutions help patients access care without waiting in phone queues. Patients can book, cancel and reschedule appointments through their mobile devices. On the back end, data can be leveraged to predict and manage demand, while digitized scheduling means agents can spend less time checking referrals against scheduling rules.

Automated prior authorizations mean staff no longer need to spend hours poring over payer policies and checking individual payer websites to check for changes – the software updates automatically in real-time.

Simplifying these processes with automation not only minimizes operational strain but also reduces friction for patients who want to see the right specialist in the least amount of time.

Use case 2: automate personalized patient outreach to reduce call volumes

Another way to reduce the administrative burden is with automated patient outreach. Reducing no-shows is an important strategy to promote better health outcomes and boost financial performance. Instead of burying staff with a list of patients to follow up with, providers should utilize automated patient reminders.

Automated patient outreach solutions allow providers to segment patients according to their individual needs and preferences, so patients get relevant information through the most appropriate channel. This allows patients to proactively and conveniently manage their own healthcare journey. Automated messages can also be sent to remind patients of outstanding bills and link them to payment options. This means patient collections teams can spend less time on calls and focus instead on meaningful conversations with patients who need extra guidance or support.

Use case 3: automate patient collections for faster payments and a better patient experience

With fewer staff, patient collections teams must figure out which accounts to prioritize, while navigating increasingly complex payer policies. Advanced data analytics and automation can be used to make these processes more efficient.

Similarly, automated patient collections software can screen and segment patient accounts to allow staff to quickly prioritize those with the highest probability of being paid. Collections Optimization Manager offers convenience and clarity to staff with an easy-to-use interface, while targeted collections strategies facilitate conversations with patients based on accurate information and fewer calls and emails. Speed and accessibility create a better experience all around for both patients and staff.

Using automated solutions to reduce the pressure of the healthcare staffing crisis

Cox says, “Over the last few years, Experian Health has focused on helping providers and payers solve the immediate challenges associated with a remote workforce and staffing constraints while scaling services in response to surging demand. Integrating automation with self-service tools is just the beginning. Our vision is to continue driving innovative and automated solutions that will improve care outcomes and transform our clients’ healthcare operations.”

These are just a few examples of how automation can create new opportunities for healthcare providers. Digital processes that were once considered merely “nice to have” are now critical components to alleviate the healthcare staffing crisis and deliver positive patient experiences.

Contact us to find out more about how Experian Health can help your organization use automation to alleviate the healthcare staffing crisis.

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