Low income, rural, elderly, or ailing patients might not have the means to travel to receive care, and consequently opt for healthcare services at home. Home healthcare is a rapidly expanding market: according to M&M, it is expected to reach $349.8 billion by 2020 globally from $227.5 billion in 2015, at a CAGR of 9.0% during the forecast period. The industry is transforming, and home healthcare companies must adapt to an increasingly digitalised world to remain competitive.
In the UK specifically, healthcare organisations, including those within the publicly funded national health system (NHS), are fully aware of the challenges they face: an ageing population will require increased care (often at home due to mobility issues), but budgets are already under intense pressure. Transformation is the only option, and technology is its key driver.
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It’s important that organisations approach this transformation as a journey and not a quick fix: with the right technology, home healthcare companies can increase efficiency of processes, in turn improving client and caregiver satisfaction while reducing costs. According to PwC UK, the right approach could deliver net benefits between £8 and £13 billion by FY20/21.
Here’s how tech is transforming home healthcare:
Automated appointment scheduling
Automation helps to ensure technology is seamless and remains invisible, allowing home healthcare companies to focus on delivering the best care possible to their patients. Typically, these organisations are less technically savvy in comparison to other industries such as telecoms, as they are constrained by tight margins.
This situation is likely to change as increasing numbers of home healthcare organisations discover the value of optimisation and automation as a competitive differentiator when going after contracts. In short, it’s essential for these companies to adopt smart automation to stay competitive.
Examples of automated processes, resulting in increased efficiency, include automated appointment scheduling. Artificial intelligence (AI) can assist businesses in terms of the organisation of caregivers: for example, any additional medicines or equipment that are required by a client can be determined in real-time.
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In addition, AI can provide predictive caregiver scheduling, predictive home appointment duration, predictive travel (to the detail of street-level predictive routing), and predictive cancellation which contributes to no-show appointment prevention, allowing an overall improved customer service.
Automation can be leveraged to support and streamline processes such as scheduling, making sure caregivers are sent out as quickly as possible when required, equipped with everything they need to provide the best care to a specific patient. With AI, the likelihood that a caregiver will complete each appointment successfully are significantly increased.
Improved care experience
The capabilities of AI mean that patients are less likely to be left waiting a long time for a health issue to be resolved, contributing to an enhanced experience with their home healthcare provider.
Healthcare organisations are waking up to aspects of AI technology which can help carers to complete basic tasks, freeing up time to concentrate on more important healthcare-related issues.
For example, rather than manually entering basic patient data, AI technology can automate this process and allow caregivers to concentrate on the deep analysis of patient data. In huge volumes, patient information can easily be lost track of: AI can help to manage this and record patient interactions, such as questions or medical requests. Caregivers who would previously gather these types of patient data are then able to concentrate on handling high-risk home care cases.
In addition, AI can assist in scheduling appointments for caregivers, as well as collect data across many forms. This will increase overall productivity and employee satisfaction, allowing care providers to focus on delivering the best customer help possible.
AI won’t necessarily replace the need for caregivers, but it will help automate more mundane tasks, improve success rates and efficiency and allow caregivers to concentrate on more pressing healthcare responsibilities.
Home healthcare services within the publicly funded NHS are subject to extremely narrow margins, and so there is a need to optimise for efficiency wherever possible. AI and automation capabilities, for example automated appointment scheduling, contribute to increased opportunity for profitability and growth through optimisation and efficiency, demonstrating overall a responsible use of public funds.
AI and automation-based technologies can streamline a multitude of processes across an unlimited amount of industries, including home healthcare. The opportunities that these techniques present are infinite, and machines will only become smarter.
As technology progresses at an ever-rapid rate, potential to transform home healthcare will grow and organisations will be able to deliver increasingly exceptional levels of patient care, encourage greater caregiver satisfaction and improve cost control.
Sourced from Paul Whitelam, VP Product Marketing at ClickSoftware