I love attending the annual HIMSS conference. Every time I step onto the exhibit hall floor, I’m reminded of when I was a little kid stepping through the doors of FAO Schwarz – endless possibilities. Around every corner and aisle was something new, intriguing, thought-provoking, and endless home improvement capabilities.
This June, I was fortunate enough to get to attend HIMSS21 in Las Vegas. The HIMSS Global Health and Exhibition Conference brings professionals across the global healthcare ecosystem together to connect and educate on topics reimagining health and wellness. This year, despite the 50% drop in vendors, it did not disappoint. With the lower attendance, I felt like I got a front-row seat and was able to spend much more time with the vendors.
I was also fortunate this year to attend with my UiPath friend and peer, Jason Warrelmann, Global Healthcare Lead, and his team. We spent a lot of time discussing intelligent automation needs and possibilities within healthcare, a topic about which Jason and I are very passionate. Toward the end of the week, we had the chance to sit down and recap our thoughts on HIMSS21, more specifically regarding this year’s exhibition hall.
The numerous themes in the exhibit halls were very current and relevant to today’s healthcare needs. Technology solutions focused on patient experience were quickly the most prominently featured in the gallery and during many breakout sessions. At the same time, I felt there were many areas still underrepresented. The most disappointing standout was the lack of end-to-end integrated process automation.
Like many people interested in DIY, my first home was a real “fixer-upper.” I felt like Norm on Cheers every time I walked into hardware store. Each time I came out of the store, I had at least 30 items that by themselves did not provide much value, but when I got home and connected them all to rewire the basement or refinish a bathroom, they all came together as something that represented more than the sum of the individual parts.
I believe automation in healthcare is much like my hardware store experiences. Hundreds of great applications to assist and add value to healthcare are available and were on full display at HIMSS21. By themselves, they only deliver a fraction of the potential value that could be achieved when connected seamlessly across an entire workflow.
The Healthcare Industry Needs Intelligent Automation
Over the past several years, we’ve proven that automation provides excellent value. Yet, there needs to be a more concerted effort to focus and design full workflow automation leveraging internal and external data, employing predictive analytics, and increasing automation capabilities upstream and downstream with machine learning.
Take care coordination as an example: Patient experiences travel through three key phases; pre-treatment, treatment, and post-treatment. Each of these phases has various paths, sometimes overlapping yet reasonably structured. Current automation exists to improve individual parts of the experience such as patient intake, billing, post-treatment virtual care, etc. But there is currently nothing to connect all of these, along with the patient’s records and charts, the various providers along the way, and the forward-looking care plan. Today’s technology is very much primed to provide that coveted “Amazon experience” for patients. Patients are fully informed, have seamless hand-offs, know what to expect, and can easily access additional information. While this is beneficial, we must first think, design, and build well beyond single process automation.
The same situation exists in dozens of healthcare functional areas. Revenue cycle management is another great example. The very specific manual processes related to provider claims processing have been successfully automated: Pre-authorizations, EOB validation, status checks, payment reconciliation, etc., all designed to reduce claims rework, denials, and write-offs. B what about the rest of the process? Many other processes have a significant impact on RCM. Patient registration and intake, provider credentialing and enrollment, and charge capture, and coding are just a few. These can easily be automated and connected to the entire RCM workflow automation along with analytics and machine learning to ensure the automation is continuously improving.
Looking into 2022
I’m already looking forward to HIMSS22 in Orlando alongside our amazing partner, UiPath.
In the meantime, we’ll be doing our part to continually evangelize the need for larger scale, end to end, and intelligent automation in healthcare. Hopefully, we’ll see much more of it on the 2022 exhibit hall floor.
Hope to see all of you there!
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