27th March 2024.

Liberating staff to prioritise patients over repetitive tasks

In the evolving landscape of healthcare technology, automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are emerging as a transformative force, offering the NHS an opportunity to redefine the delivery of patient-centric services. It is suggested that nearly half of NHS admin tasks could be automated, and that this uptake of digital solutions would improve staff wellbeing, while increasing productivity and time management.

By deploying these digital co-pilots, healthcare organisations can liberate staff from time-consuming and mundane tasks, allowing them to refocus on what truly matters—providing personalised and compassionate care in order to improve outcomes.

We need help tackling the backlog

NHS waiting list figures at almost 8 million and it is essential more is done to tackle them. New data also shows that since 2020 more than 200,000 people in England have not received potentially life-saving surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy within the NHS’s maximum 62-day wait.

Digital appointment management tools play a crucial part in addressing these waiting lists and freeing up valuable time in the NHS. By leveraging AI and automation, routine tasks such as appointment scheduling and document handling can be streamlined, reducing the burden on healthcare staff. This efficiency not only accelerates the booking process but also enables quicker access to healthcare services and a reduction of waiting times.

Technology doesn’t get tired of cyclical tasks

As automation takes care of repetitive tasks, staff can redirect their focus to more complex and urgent aspects of care. This dual impact not only enhances the patients overall experience, but also optimises the use of staff resources, contributing to a more responsive and patient-centred healthcare system. Reducing the need for human intervention with the implementation of automated digital letters and patient engagement portals is one way to do this. This improves productivity and patient satisfaction through timely and relevant healthcare journey updates delivered direct to people’s smartphones.

Digital letters enable all appointment information and supporting documents to be accessed from the palm of their hand, anytime and anywhere. Plus, they can register to receive all future communications in one central hub. Portals also facilitate the ability to request follow ups, complete waiting list checks and pre-assessment forms from the comfort of their home, with accessible tools to instantly translate text or have it read aloud.

AI can answer those frequently asked questions for us

Automated communications can be further enhanced by combining it with natural language processing, providing conversational chatbots that deliver personalised and clear communications to ensure patients receive appointment reminders, test results, and follow-up instructions promptly, then respond to any queries or rescheduling requests without patients needing to contact their hospital staff.

AI-powered chatbots equipped with FAQs capabilities serve as intelligent virtual assistants, providing accurate, instant responses around the clock. These chatbots can competently handle routine enquiries about services, medications, appointments and general health information, freeing up staff to focus on more complex interactions.

Chatbots can continuously learn from patient interactions to improve their responses over time. Machine learning algorithms enable chatbots to adapt to new information and refine their understanding of patient preferences and needs, ultimately driving continuous improvement in patient satisfaction and healthcare outcomes.

Removing the manual burdens with automated scheduling

AI technology can revolutionise the appointment scheduling process by serving as additional members of the booking team that can work outside of office hours. This ensures optimal utilisation of resources and minimises call wait times for people wanting to book or reschedule their appointments. Automated self-scheduling enhances operational efficiency and patient access whilst providing a quick and convenient interaction.

Studies have shown that AI can save teams thousands of hours on manual administrative tasks, and 67% of patients prefer to book their appointments online. By offering a hassle-free patient rebooking service, healthcare organisations can significantly reduce the rate of Did Not Attends (DNAs), which cost the NHS millions of pounds annually. Self-scheduling seamlessly integrates with electronic patient records (EPR), patient portals, and personal health records (PHR), streamlining processes and improving data accuracy. Automation of waiting list management through this technology also leads to more efficient utilisation of resources and reduced patient wait times.

Healthcare Communications have recently partnered with Deep Medical, a UK company who use predictive analytics to reduce missed appointments by 30% with AI and ‘smart’ appointments. Their exciting technology identifies DNA risks and use this information to schedule appointments, such as a new mum of a young baby who can’t get to appointments that are very early as she has to use public transport, or a patient with memory loss who needs extra reminders to ensure they don’t forget to attend.

Intelligent analytics for maximising feedback

Collecting patient feedback is crucial for improving healthcare services, and AI can play a vital role in transforming the reporting process by becoming part of NHS digital workforce. AI-driven analytics can swiftly analyse survey responses, identify trends, and extract meaningful insights to inform strategic decision-making. This enables healthcare organisations to proactively address concerns, enhance service quality, and adapt care delivery based on real-time feedback.

AI-powered surveys also provide the chance to collect more in-depth feedback, as chatbots can be programmed with advanced natural language processing that understands the context of what a patient sends and inquisitively respond with relevant probing questions to gain more information. For example, if a patient simply shares that they did not enjoy the food during their visit, the chatbot can delve deeper and find out exactly what they didn’t like and why so any improvements can be more informed.

Freeing staff from the restraints of repetitive tasks

Implementing digital co-pilots represents a significant leap forward in optimising operational efficiency and elevating the patient experience so staff can concentrate on building meaningful relationships with patients, making informed decisions, and delivering empathetic care. This, in turn, not only reduces burnout but also fosters a more fulfilling work environment.

By adopting this strategy in the form of digital appointment management, deploying chatbots, leveraging intelligent reporting, and much more, staff will benefit from more time to prioritise patients over these previously manual tasks. The collaborative potential between healthcare staff and technology marks an important step toward a future that is efficient, patient-centred, and driven by a commitment to delivering the highest standard of care.