The Power of Automation: Optimising Public Health Operations

July 12, 2023 • 4 minute read

The widespread adoption of technology has provided an incredible opportunity for efficient workflows and automation across various industries. In healthcare however, (traditionally viewed as people-centric and heavily reliant on human expertise) the potential for automation has often been overlooked.  Mckinsey reports that the healthcare sector lags behind other industries in the adoption of AI and […]

The widespread adoption of technology has provided an incredible opportunity for efficient workflows and automation across various industries. In healthcare however, (traditionally viewed as people-centric and heavily reliant on human expertise) the potential for automation has often been overlooked. 

Mckinsey reports that the healthcare sector lags behind other industries in the adoption of AI and automation, and found out that 36% of healthcare activities that could be automated remain perversely manual, especially in data processing and analytics.

In the public health sector, the implementation of automation technology can address the bottlenecks that hinder operational efficiency. By streamlining interconnected clinical and administrative-level workflows, facilities can alleviate the burden on healthcare professionals, allowing them to allocate more time and resources to patient care. This not only enhances the quality of care but also reduces the risk of errors and delays in mission-critical processes. One hospital in the US that upgraded to an integrated medical record and practice management system saved over 2,000 hours of manual effort. The migration to the new system, involving 64,000 records was conducted in less than 24 hours with no losses or errors. 

The Transformative Impact of Automation on Public Health

The integration of automation technologies offers numerous advantages that traditional manual processes simply cannot match.

In this section, we delve into the numerous benefits that automation brings to public health operations, highlighting its potential to enhance efficiency, improve data accuracy, enable proactive interventions and optimise resource allocation.

  • Improved Efficiency and Productivity 

Automation eliminates the need for manual data entry and reduces the amount of time that practitioners dedicate to laboriously repetitive administrative tasks. 

For instance, the traditional process of manual appointment scheduling involves aligning patient requirements with doctors’ schedules and availability, which can be time-consuming and prone to errors. However, automation transforms this process by efficiently collecting patient data, including personal information and insurance details, and scheduling appointments based on these criteria. Automated reminders can also be sent to patients to notify them of upcoming appointments or any changes. 

This streamlined approach enables healthcare providers to optimise workflows, minimise waiting times and maximise staff utilisation, which addresses the chronic staffing issues that plague public health facilities in the UK and around the world. Consequently, healthcare facilities can accommodate a greater number of patients, reduce administrative overhead, ensure a seamless patient experience and mitigate the cost of no-shows, which was reported to have cost the NHS £1 billion in 2022.

  • Improved Accuracy and Reduced Errors

Automation brings a high degree of accuracy and precision to healthcare operations, minimising the risk of errors and improving patient safety. By automating data collection, analysis, and reporting, healthcare providers can eliminate manual transcription errors and inconsistencies. This ensures that critical information is recorded and communicated accurately, leading to more informed decision-making and better patient outcomes. 

A perfect illustration of automation at work would be Meddbase’s e-prescription platform. Meddbase cross checks prescriptions against the patient record, matching SNOMED CT terms captured during the consultation with SNOMED CT terms logged against the drug data, and can warn against adverse drug interactions and contra-inidcations, flag cautions, product warnings and side-effects. The system significantly reduces medication errors by ensuring the right medication is administered to the right patient at the right time.

  • Streamlined Clinical Workflows and Care Coordination

Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems automate the storage, retrieval and exchange of patient information, enabling healthcare providers to access comprehensive and up-to-date medical records. This real-time accessibility improves communication and collaboration between healthcare teams, enhances continuity of care and reduces the potential for medical errors resulting from incomplete or outdated information, so providers can deliver the best care, ultimately saving lives.

This study revealed concerning statistics regarding the difficulties faced by general practitioners (GPs) when coordinating care with other providers in the UK. Out of all the countries participating in the survey, the UK had the highest percentage, with 70% of GPs finding it somewhat or very challenging to coordinate care. Additionally, 48% of GPs reported the need to repeat tests or procedures due to unavailable test results. The study further highlighted that 4 out of 5 practitioners encountered problems for patients due to poor coordination of care. But by using EHR systems that support the integration of automated decision support tools, practitioners can alleviate the challenges of coordination between different components of a fragmented healthcare system across the value chain.

  • Data-Driven Insights and Predictive Analytics 

Automation empowers healthcare organisations to leverage data-driven insights and predictive analytics, revolutionising the way public health is managed. By automating data processing and analysis, healthcare providers can uncover meaningful patterns, trends, and correlations in vast amounts of clinical and administrative data. This enables them to identify high-risk populations, anticipate disease outbreaks and develop timely, targeted intervention strategies at personal and public levels.

  • Inventory and Revenue Cycle Management 

Automation is a game-changer in revenue cycle management and inventory management in healthcare.

In revenue cycle management, automation streamlines billing and claims processes, reducing the potential for errors and accelerating payment cycles. By automating tasks such as coding, claims submission, and payment reconciliation, healthcare providers can improve accuracy, efficiency, and cash flow. Automation also enables real-time eligibility verification, ensuring that services are provided to patients with valid insurance coverage, minimising denials and delays in reimbursement.

Similarly, automation revolutionises inventory management by optimising supply chain processes, reducing waste and ensuring adequate stock levels. With automated inventory management systems, healthcare organisations can track inventory in real-time, monitor expiration dates and automate reordering processes, eliminating manual inventory counting errors. Realtime reporting of stock status is especially important for public health facilities because of the complex coordination and approval processes in the supply chain.

Generally, automation in healthcare presents a significant opportunity to optimise operations. By leveraging automation technology, healthcare providers can transition from reactive to proactive planning, streamline workflows, improve data quality and gain real-time insights. As public health administrators embrace the potential of automation, they can enhance their operational capabilities and create a more efficient and sustainable healthcare system for the future.


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