Can technology alleviate a hospital's financial burdens? 4 CIOs weigh in

Hospitals and health system CIOs say automation technology and natural language processing could alleviate some of their organizations' most pressing financial burdens in the face of lost revenue and increased labor costs.

Becker's asked four CIOs: As hospitals continue to deal with financial strain, what are some financial pain points that can be solved with technology? 

Darrell Bodnar. CIO of North Country HealthCare (Whitefield, N.H.): There is a wealth of opportunity within healthcare for automated processes. There is so much repetitive, redundant, and unnecessary manual work in the clinical and financial operations of a healthcare organization. All you have to do is spend a little time mapping process workflows and the opportunities become apparent. In the clinical realm, physician documentation, notes, orders, patient education, scheduling, and referrals can all benefit from process automation. In the revenue cycle the possibilities are endless including coding, billing and collections.

Automated scheduling, registration, prior authorization, price transparency and forms completion can also all be automated without any hospital employee needing to be involved.

Ambient voice technologies, automation, AI and machine learning can also certainly improve the provider and patient encounter, whether that is face to face or screen to screen.  

Technology could also distillate vast amounts of patient data. Whether remote patient monitoring, wearable devices, or a plethora of SDoH data, it needs to be delivered into the clinical workflow in a way that is beneficial and can be consumed by the clinician to have better overall outcomes at precisely the right time. Technology can do this.

Randy Davis. Vice president and CIO of CGH Medical Center (Sterling, Ill.): Technology could help better guide the scheduling and intake processes by minimizing the significant expenses all organizations have in scheduling appointments and dealing with intake issues.

Robert Eardley. CIO of University Hospitals (Cleveland): Seamless access, which at UH we call Care Connections, will benefit from use of online scheduling, automated messaging to secure follow-up care for our patients, automated interactive voice assistants to get consumers the assistance they need in an efficient manner and an e-check in process that streamlines arrivals. 

Technology can also validate the correct insurance and patient co-pay information to prevent confusion for the patient after a visit, and can provide easy payment options that are efficient for patients. 

Virtual care options are inherently a part of our care delivery model. We hope to meet our consumers and patients with the delivery mechanism most convenient and efficient for their needs. In a number of cases, these options might be virtual visits with a provider, e-visits through secure forms to resolve a current need, and secure messaging to their provider care team. These, combined with other technologies, can help us address some of the financial constraints felt across the healthcare industry.

Brad Reimer. CIO of Sanford Health (Sioux Falls, S.D.): Sanford Health is investing in areas like data analytics and AI to support our workforce needs and improve clinical outcomes. For example, we are leveraging predictive analytics to make sure we have the right people in the right place at the right time to build a more resilient and sustainable workforce. By focusing on automation and light-touch experiences for our patients, caregivers and other staff, we are able to bridge the workforce shortage gap and reduce clinician burnout. 

Sanford Health is also exploring more opportunities to monitor patients with chronic conditions, allowing clinicians to intervene early before complications occur – which improves health outcomes and reduces costs. Conjoining video processing, AI and other telemetry data also hold tremendous promise by not only optimizing caregiver time, but also improving quality and patient outcomes. 

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