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Why Automation is Key to Putting Clinicians Back on the Front Lines

U.S. hospitals and health systems together recorded more than $202 billion in losses between March 1 and June 30, as the COVID-19 pandemic held a firm grip on the country, according to research from the American Hospital Association. In such dire financial circumstances, healthcare organizations must quickly and drastically lower spending on manual regulatory-focused tasks — without compromising compliance.

Automation has the power to revolutionize compliance by helping hospitals and health systems conserve valuable financial and clinical resources. Read the How to Build a Healthcare Compliance Analytics Program white paper to learn how your organization can optimize its compliance program.

The crippling clinical toll

It's not just financial resources that are drained by costly compliance requirements; regulatory burden also threatens care quality and clinical resources. Of the 59 full-time equivalents dedicated to compliance at the average hospital, more than 25 percent are physicians, nurses and other staff being pulled away from patient care. These individuals must take even more time away from patients to take compliance exams or learn about any new requirements.

This kind of staffing allocation is grossly inefficient under normal circumstances, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, the improper utilization of clinical talent is especially devastating. As of Nov. 20, more than 1,000 hospitals across the country were "critically" short on staff, NPR reported based on data from the Department of Health and Human Services. Physicians, nurses and other care team members are needed on the front lines of patient care, not in the back office conducting tedious audits or completing other tasks that can be automated.

A better way to ensure compliance

At the end of the day, pandemic or not, a busy, burned-out clinician is less suited to manage nuanced regulatory needs than an artificial intelligence tool trained to review millions of data points in the blink of an eye. That's why Protenus' flagship Privacy on Autopilot audits 100% of access to patient records, no matter what electronic health record system or ancillary system is being used.

While software integration — and truthfully, change of any kind — can be a major undertaking for healthcare organizations, Protenus' Privacy on Autopilot tool is straightforward and user-friendly, ensuring clinicians can remain focused on their mission to deliver high-quality care. In turn, with automation, healthcare organizations can increase efficiency across their compliance teams, allowing them to focus on critical tasks and major projects.

"The platform is intuitive and does not require a lot of training," said Dave Wiltsey, a corporate compliance analyst at the University of Maryland Medical Center. "We have become more efficient in our case investigations and even identified opportunities for improving our clinical processes."

Mounting compliance requirements

Healthcare organizations such as the University of Maryland Medical Center are asked to comply with a stunning 629 discrete regulatory requirements from four separate agencies, the AHA reported in 2018. The number of compliance requirements has undoubtedly grown since then, and more will keep coming down the pipeline. Thus, the need to automate regulatory compliance in healthcare is abundantly clear. Already saddled with COVID-19-related financial losses, healthcare organizations that do not modernize will ultimately not survive. 

As regulatory requirements continue piling up, it’s essential for large hospitals and health systems to complete related administrative tasks without draining financial and clinical resources. 

To learn more about how to increase compliance team efficiency while allowing clinicians to focus on their patients, read the How to Build a Healthcare Compliance Analytics Program white paper.

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