Optimizing the Healthcare Workforce with Technology

Article originally published in Healthcare IT Today
By John Lynn

There are a lot of challenges that healthcare workers are currently facing, burnout from overworking being one of the most pressing. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Through utilizing the technology that we currently have available, many areas of work healthcare professionals are doing can be automated and simplified. Carefully integrating various technological solutions into your organization can lift some of the burden your workers are experiencing. Thus reducing burnout and increasing the level of care your patients are receiving. We reached out to the Healthcare IT Today community to get their thoughts on using technology to optimize the healthcare workforce. Take a look at the insights they had to share.

Dr. Keith Dressler, CEO and Chairman at Rhinogram

Integrated texting technology with real-time team awareness that also allows automated workflows can take the place of an actual person. From the care team perspective, being able to respond to patients and each other in real-time, from mobile phones, is efficient and liberating. Visibility to the full communication allows care teams to improve their processes, responsiveness and that brings up the total quality of care they can provide with less effort.

Richard Brooks, President of Healthcare at Connect America

Solutions such as remote patient monitoring (RPM) enable providers to remotely manage patient’s health conditions outside the hospital or doctor’s office, freeing up vital resources. By delivering clinical insights that help power more informed decision-making and earlier interventions, RPM improves patient outcomes while easing the load of the healthcare workforce. When combined with the power of artificial intelligence (AI), like a virtual health assistant, it can offer patients encouragement and reminders to take their readings or medication — often resulting in higher adherence, better outcomes, and healthier patients.

Travis Palmquist, SVP & GM, Senior Care at PointClickCare

The industry is facing a historic workforce crisis. Turnover in healthcare is incredibly high and providers are dealing with the stress of reskilling and the inability to move forward with growth initiatives because they are focused on teaching basic skills. Members of care teams work tirelessly to coordinate transitions and care decisions, but they’re often doing so with out-of-date or incomplete information. Technology has made it possible for health systems to streamline these burdens that not only benefit the patient but also internal operations.

Dr. Greg Albers, Chairman, Co-Founder and Scientific Lead at RapidAI

Many physicians and their teams are feeling burned-out. Fortunately, AI image interpretation and workflow optimization are helping teams manage a higher capacity of case volume by automating key tasks, making it easier to manage patient care from arrival to outcome. Workflow optimization tools give the clinical team visibility to the patient pathway in real time, and empower them to make data-driven decisions about how to best manage critical medical situations.

Greg Miller, Chief Growth Officer at Lumeon

Let’s talk about the problem first. In most health systems today, traditional care coordination is broken, it’s labor intensive, expensive, mostly manual, and highly variable across care teams and sites of care. Meanwhile, clinicians and staff are overworked and suffering from burnout, costs are rising, they have a backlog of patients that need care, and they need to recapture lost revenue – all while there is a massive shortage of people to do the work.

The best way to solve for these challenges is to apply technology that leverages data and automation to reduce and eliminate the manual efforts currently done today by human beings. With technology, you can integrate data from EHRs and other data sources in realtime, apply clinical intelligence and automate the workflow, tasks, activities and events that most health systems try to achieve with people.

This dramatically improves productivity and operating efficiency, while eliminating variation in how care is delivered, while also enabling care coordination efforts to scale consistently across care teams and sites of care. At the same time, by leveraging data and automation to reduce and eliminate manual activities and interventions, clinicians and staff have a better experience and can spend their valuable time with those patients that need the human-touch most.

Victor Lee, CEO at Preveta

Technology that upskills staff around the physician so everyone can operate at the top of their license. AI-driven care navigation platforms enable staff (medical assistants, nurses) to find patients who are falling through the cracks. This deepens staff contribution to care and relieves the burden on physicians. And this can be done remotely, which helps ease the burden on hiring.

Tom Stanis, Founder and CEO at Story Health

Tech is moving the needle for our overburdened healthcare workforce by eliminating the extra steps and hassle of managing extensive data sets. Provider organizations are adopting adaptive AI technologies that seamlessly integrate into the EHR to identify patients that still need care (be it additional medication for heart conditions or preventative screenings for cancer) to deliver actionable insights to providers, leaving clinicians more time to connect meaningfully with their patients.

Jason Handza, Chief Medical Officer at Nextech

The pandemic brought increased attention to the need for essential workers like those in healthcare including physicians, nurses, techs, and aides, but the years following have emphasized the need for IT systems to support the experience and well-being of those in essential roles.

Foundational health IT systems, like the EHR, are central to the onboarding and retention experience of practice operations and have become increasingly critical for supporting a talent-strained and burned-out workforce. The winners will be those who take their responsibility of providing a high-quality user experience as essential as the workers themselves.

Maryann Lauletta, MD, FACHE, Chief Medical Officer at Dina

Increasingly, health organizations are turning to care coordination and logistics technology to solve some of the complex challenges related to moving care from traditional acute settings and into homes and communities. For many, the investment in these types of tools can increase efficiencies and improve capacity of current staff.

The goal is to use technology to focus on the right patient signals at the right time, and not get distracted by unnecessary data points that don’t require action. Managing by exception, triggers from predictive modeling, and patient feedback all help to determine in real time who may need intervention and ensures no one falls through the cracks.

Jakub Jaszczak, Medical Product Manager at Infermedica

Many factors contributing to physician burnout revolve around unnecessary visits and administrative tasks that take up physicians’ valuable time. Digital front doors alleviate some of the administrative stress physicians face by automating processes and having patients log intake information at home. Automated pre-clinical triage can also help patients be more confident about the level of care they need and lead them to the right type of care, so that doctors only see patients who are truly in need of their assistance.

Matt Seefeld, EVP at MedEvolve

The key to managing a remote workforce today is you must have the ability to monitor and measure the effectiveness of the work effort of every staff member. This goes beyond simply monitoring productivity, you must ensure staff are working effectively and producing the desired outcome. The utilization of workflow automation solutions that measure effectiveness of work effort not only allows you to hire the best staff in any location, but you can begin to implement incentives for top performers to recognize the employees who are driving departmental success.

Jake Sattelmair, CEO at Wellframe

Technology allows patients to access relevant information in one convenient place. Empowering patients to self-serve lowers the stress on healthcare staff by reducing time spent answering common questions. The right digital technology also makes staff outreach more efficient and effective, allowing staff to engage more deeply with more members.

Often, patients visit doctor’s offices and emergency rooms unnecessarily because they don’t have access to comprehensive information about their health and wellness. Patients who have digital access to these key resources are more likely to understand when a visit to a physician, emergency room, or urgent care is necessary. Wellframe, a digital health management solution, helped reduce emergency room utilization by 9% and inpatient admissions by 17% among its users. Reducing unnecessary patient visits allows health plan staff and clinicians to avoid burnout, and use their time for high-value tasks.

Alex Bacchetti, Executive Lead, Centers for Operational and Care Transformation at AVIA

Immediate results are being realized by health systems who have deployed technologyenabled solutions for expanding their access to labor markets, including tapping into marketplace economies previously invisible to many health systems. By combining predictive and prescriptive scheduling tools, health systems are able to recognize substantial labor savings through reduced agency contracts, lower use of overtime, and greater staff retention. These scheduling tools forecast demand with a high degree of accuracy weeks or months in advance and provide staff with flexibility in managing their shift selections.

Guillaume Castel, CEO at PerfectServe

Provider scheduling technology has the power to create equitable schedules that give providers a greater sense of autonomy. The loss of control many healthcare workers have experienced throughout the COVID pandemic due to chaotic, unpredictable schedules has been a major contributor to burnout. We’ve seen time and again with clients that better, fairer, and more transparent schedules lead to happier, more engaged providers who have more control over their work-life balance.

Corinna Dan, Senior Director of Public Health at Maximus

The public health data and technology landscape is evolving rapidly and demands an agile workforce that can efficiently adapt and integrate better IT solutions. The public health department of the future will require not only epidemiologists, but also health information technologists, data scientists, and cybersecurity experts focused on modernizing disease surveillance and using data to inform programs that improve population health. And with the tremendous modernization efforts underway, these teams will need upskilling in acquisition methods as they increasingly work with the private sector.

There are so many ways that technology can help out our healthcare professionals and in turn, our patients. Where do you see technology lifting some of the burden on healthcare workers?