Health systems invest in productivity

Productivity is a buzzword for most workplaces today, and healthcare is no different.

U.S. productivity measures showed big increases for the first time in years, according to a report in The New York Times, as organizations leverage artificial intelligence and aim to do more with less. For hospitals, many experiencing staffing shortages and tight margins, developing a culture of increased productivity is imperative.

"We have been seeking opportunities to introduce artificial intelligence and robotic process automation applications to improve efficiency, quality and productivity," said Robert Calway, president and CEO of Scarborough, Maine-based New England Life Care.

The health system implemented technology to automate home infusion pharmacy orders from the hospital post-acute referral process, which has had a big impact on the system.

"This improvement significantly reduced labor demands for the manual re-entry of previously faxed orders, dramatically reduced errors associated with transcription, thereby improving patient safety and increased the productivity of staff who previously were responsible for this 'mundane' but important activity," Mr. Calway said.

Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health is investing in new technologies to address staffing shortages and increase the employee experience. The system launched a 70-plus room, AI-powered smart hospital pilot to reduce the administrative burden on nursing staff, increase productivity and improve quality of care.

"Not only is this pilot moving the needle in these important areas, but it has also sparked a conversation around innovation and technology at the bedside like we've never seen," said Brad Reimer, CIO of Sanford. "It's a win-win for our teams and our patients."

The health system also launched a frictionless self-service option for patients to prepare for their upcoming appointments, and last year had 1.4 million visit registrations completed through the digital experience. The technology created thousands of hours of capacity per month for teams as well as gave time back for more patient-centered services. The clinical teams have been able to move patients more efficiently through the system and boost productivity as a result.

Trinity Health Medical Group in Livonia, Mich., is also working on ways to support staff remotely for boosted productivity. Fredric A. Reyelts, MD, medical director of innovation at the medical group, said to address staff shortages at primary care offices he developed a process to leverage virtual medical assistants.

"By engaging patients in providing their HPI via a portal, using a self check-in process, in-office wayfinding and technology to self-collect vitals, I was able to significantly reduce the cycle time for 'rooming' a patient," he told Becker's. "This allowed the MA to more than double their productivity and even support another provider/office remotely."

James Forrester, chief transformation officer and CIO of University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center told Becker's the most needlemoving innovation his team rolled out in the last year was ambient digital scribe technology, starting with a small pilot in the orthopedics department.

"The technology makes a notable difference for our providers both from provider satisfaction and productivity perspectives," said Mr. Forrester. "The patient experience is enhanced by increasing the amount of time providers spend interacting with patients."

URMC plans to develop a broader pilot in other ambulatory settings and expects the technology will be able to support more members of the care team, including nurses. The system also hopes to use the technology in additional areas, including patient triage and discharge.

Health systems also aim to improve management team productivity. Linda Stevenson, CIO of Fisher-Titus Health in Norwalk, Ohio, said her organization has been exploring Microsoft/DAX Co-Pilot for physicians to streamline patient visits and allow clinicians to spend more time in patient care in addition to other functions.

"We are exploring the Microsoft CoPilot solutions to improve the productivity of our management team, along with investigating opportunities that AI can bring to improve our revenue cycle processes," said Ms. Stevenson.

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