By most accounts, the Kenyan health care sector is inefficient.
The system grapples with the increasing demands, burgeoning costs, inconsistent and inadequate quality of care, inefficiency, and poorly coordinated care.
Although there are rafts of challenges facing health care delivery in the country, the bulging health care spending is at the forefront of priority concerns for decision-makers and industry stakeholders.
The cost of care is the critical determinant of health care accessibility.
Health care could be available, but its availability is worthless if users cannot afford the charges.
The quest for effective and efficient cost-reduction strategies has been elusive and futile.
The pursuit for a panacea for the scourging healthcare costs has landed the decision-makers at the technology’s door front.
Patients, providers, doctors, big pharma, managers, insurance companies, and governments consent that technology has the potential of providing solutions that could tame health care costs and improve service quality.
Technology gives the health care industry a glimpse of hope in providing quality, affordable, and accessible care.
Application of Technology in Reducing Health Care Operations Cost
If we could teleport nineteenth-century nurses and surgeons into a modern 21st-century hospital, time travelers could be startled by technological advancement.
For example, the nurse would be stunned to learn that infusion pumps have relieved them of the duty to inject patients frequently, and the surgeons will be in awe of the real-time MRI technology.
Despite playing a critical role in increasing therapeutic benefits, improved quality of life, and efficiency in productivity, technology has a cost-effective measure in reducing operations costs as of recent development.
Automating Routine Administrative Tasks
Health care can apply an array of technological tools to reduce operations costs.
For example, hospitals could automate routine administrative tasks to leverage clinicians’ time.
Automating monotonous administrative tasks allows physicians to spend their time on adding value to the patients’ outcome.
It is cost-ineffective when doctors spend more than a third of their time feeding patients’ notes into the electronic health records system instead of attending to patients.
Using a combination of Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, and Basic digital software, we can import test results into the electronic health records system.
In addition to completing the paperwork, the new system can create reminders, schedule appointments, and provide prescription advice.
Automation of mundane administrative tasks reflects the monetary cost and the emotional cost.
Clinicians that were burdened by the administrative functions will experience increased satisfaction and reduced burnout.
The clinicians’ focus will be biased towards the patients, thus giving the hospitals value for labor cost and advancing patients’ experience.
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Rethinking Human Resource Expenditure Using Technology
Moreover, technology is valuable in lowering health care human resource expenditure.
Labor is capital intensive and accounts for a massive chunk of operating expenses.
Faced with the rising turnover, talent competition, and high labor cost, the available health care workforce is forced to work overtime to serve the surging patient’s volumes.
The diminishing workforce and the increasing workload have strained the health care system and the workers.
To combat the staffing challenges, hospitals can use efficient staffing approaches such as a multifunctional application that schedules, analyze labor demands, evaluates equipment status, and identifies open beds.
The system’s scheduling capacity will efficiently allocate human resources based on needs and predict future labor demands for proper planning.
The other aspects of the system perform duties that humans previously performed. You can use the time spent on data entry, monitoring bed capacity or emergency room capacity to improve patient outcomes.
Improving Workflow and Operations
Hospitals can also use technology to improve workflow. Robotics and automation can be used to perform routine clinical processes such as collecting blood samples.
The technology saves time; thus, the clinician can concentrate on more burning issues such as emergency operations.
Moreover, the technology reduces the risk of injuries and error, saving the hospital from negligence claims and tarnished image and improving patients’ outcomes.
Likewise, the health care system could introduce telemedicine features such as e-prescription and e-visits to save patients from health claims, visit costs, and improve the clinician’s productivity.
Subsequently, the clinician will see more patients, and you can eliminate the need for more workforces or overtime.
Digitized Claims Processing
Another area of health care that can enjoy technology efficiencies is claims processing.
Traditional claims processing is complicated, time-consuming, labor-intensive, and porous.
The methods suffer from bureaucracy, back-and-forth communication, and slow response time, putting patients’ lives in danger and lowering their satisfaction.
Automated systems regiment claims management by improving turnaround time and reducing fraudulent claims.
Moreover, the computerized adjudication and payment system eliminates intermediaries, limits manual communication, and flags fraudulent claims.
An automated claims system is more efficient, reduces revenue loss, limits wasteful spending, compresses cash flow, and reduces administrative costs.
Case studies of Technology Reducing Health Care Cost
Telehealth to the Rescue
Telemedicine represents the health care system with an opportunity to harness technology’s power and revolutionize health care delivery.
Telemedicine uses many strategies to reduce cost on both provider and the consumer.
For instance, telemedicine allows the pooling of resources among smaller facilities with limited volume.
The doctors can simultaneously serve patients suffering from the same condition but attached to various facilities at a reduced cost.
Likewise, you can outsource expensive services such as telepathology, teleradiology, and telecardiology affordably from offshore service providers.
Correspondingly, remote monitoring eliminates the need for frequent clinic visits.
The elderly, those with limited mobility, and busy patients can enjoy medical services without leaving their homes or offices’ comfort.
Consequently, the patients cut on transport cost, time cost, and emotional cost. That said, the health facility saves on room cost and leverage on patients’ volume.
Telemedicine also allows the formulation of culturally appropriate services that are more sensitive to special populations’ needs.
In addition to timeliness and comfort, telemedicine improves quality by reducing cost, increasing collaboration, and improving outcomes.
Telemedicine helps patients become more involved in their care process and allows physicians to tailor care based on patients’ choices and service availability.
Telemedicine reduces patient’s exposure to infections, facilitates real-time communication, lowers healthcare costs related to hospitalization and personalized therapies, and generates tremendous amounts of data for research and development.
Leveraging Big Data Analytics in Reducing Health Care Cost
The introduction of electronic health records has resulted in an overwhelming volume of electronic clinical data.
Hospitals are taking advantage of the data availability and are using digital analytical tools to glean insights from the data.
The use of the insights in reducing health care costs is unprecedented.
For example, you can use analytics to identify high-cost patients and effective management strategies for such patients.
High-cost patients’ prediction helps the health care system tailor actionable approaches that meet specific needs and gaps in inpatient care.
Tailored interventions are more cost-effective because they target specific problems.
For instance, the problem could be due to medication non-adherence; the health care system will concentrate their solutions on non-adherence and not spend resources on medication escalation and laboratory tests, which may not be related to the problem.
Equally, the analytical tools could use algorithms to forecast hospital readmission.
Timely identification of the patients who are likely to get readmitted ensures that they get precise interventions and monitoring to lower their readmission chances.
The limitation of readmission results in more resources for the hospitals and reduces treatment costs for the patient.
Furthermore, a triage algorithm can inform the general patient management strategy.
The triage could tell staffing needs and resources such as bed capacity.
Using known staffing needs and resources, the hospital can budget accordingly without profligacy, each resource meeting specific needs.
Analytics further envisage adverse events.
Clinical adverse events such as renal failure, infections, and diseases affecting multiple organ systems are expensive; thus, early identification and prevention could be cost-effective.
Timely intervention reduces the disease’s burden on the patients and pressure on the health care system.
Like in other industries, health care can leverage big data analytics to prevent abuse, reduce waste and errors, reduce recurrent losses, detect fraud and enhance patient care.
Technology in Health Care: Beyond Cost Saving
The impact of technology on reducing healthcare costs is terrific, but technology benefits do not end at cost-efficacy.
Technology enhances patient care, improves the experience, and increases patient and clinician satisfaction.
Technology facilitates flawless communication between clinicians, thus dramatically reducing the potential for medical errors emanating from miscommunication.
Communication also enhances the clinician-patient relationship and improves patients’ experience.
Besides, tools such as e-prescription and online medical repositories help clinicians improve care by reducing prescription errors and providing unlimited peer-reviewed information.
Technology enhances value-based care by emphasizing patient-centered approaches that encourage patients to take a leading role in their care.
Initiatives such as self-monitoring, information availability, remote communication, e-prescription, and convenient care delivery increase compliance and patients’ satisfaction.
Technology has improved medical equipment and the quality of care. The equipment enhances comprehensive care, resulting in increased quality of life, reduced disease burden, and eliminated the fear of adverse medical events such as life-threatening illnesses and accidents.
Patients can currently access NanoHealth, networked sensors, brain implants, plastic surgery, and artificial organs.
Technology has also eased the anxiety that patients use to experience as they waited for weeks or months for medical test results.
The results are currently instant, and aspects of care such as billing and appointments are more convenient.
Technology has expanded access to health care.
Access to care is now more convenient and easy.
Telehealth gives consumers more options and opens new avenues of health care provision.
Another benefit to providers is Artificial Intelligence.
Providers could use Artificial Intelligence to anticipate patients’ needs and meet them before the demand arises, thus improving trust and satisfaction.
Technology and Efficient Management of Health Systems
Like in other facets of businesses, optimizing technological infrastructure improves efficiency in managing healthcare systems.
The technology ensures that patients access effective and efficient care.
The health care system can integrate instant messaging, active social media sites, live chat support, and interactive websites to enhance patients’ interaction.
Technology further offers health care systems with software for creating effective marketing models based on market trends and strategic competitive window analysis.
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Furthermore, the health care system can use scheduling, digital check-ins, and ticketing systems to improve workflow and workplace operations.
The health care system also uses technology to reduce operations costs, especially labor costs, by automating most of the previously required human attention tasks.
The technology eliminates challenging tasks and allows health care providers to focus on core-duties.
The positive impact of technology on health care delivery is undeniable.
However, to benefit more from technology, there is a need to skew health care technological advancement towards patient care and staff support.
The patients and the hospital staff ought to be at the center of any technological development.
Tripleaim Software works to implement these technologies in health care settings.
Find out here how you can start incorporating health technology in your company.