This article was originally published on MedCityNews. 

By Cindy Gaines

It is no longer a question of whether we should use automation for care orchestration. The technology for intelligent automation of care coordination is available now and can help providers reduce costs, generate revenue, and overcome understaffing.

Perioperative care is a critical part of the patient journey. Encompassing the time before, during, and after surgery, perioperative care is a collaborative process that allows clinicians to review a patient’s medical history, assess that person’s surgical risk, respond to adverse events, and begin postoperative recovery.

That process, unfortunately, is frequently slow and inefficient. Steps such as checking the patient’s record, gathering information from the patient, ordering lab tests, and confirming identity and health information are essential, but take time and human effort. In a recent survey, four in five (80%) clinical and IT leaders/directors agree that care coordination is currently a manual, tedious and expensive process.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) minces no words in its assessment of the current state of technology in perioperative care. “The information technology (IT) sophistication offered to the perioperative environment does not match the requirements of clinicians, administrators, and even clerical staff,” AHRQ writes. “Integrating even well-designed and workflow-enabled software into the perioperative workflow is not easy.”

Views on workflow automation 

The survey reveals a disconnect between clinical leaders and CEOs/IT leaders regarding the use of workflow automation to improve care processes. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of nursing and surgical chiefs agree that automation frees up time for better care, versus only 36% of CEOs and financial chiefs.

Although there is agreement that the key challenges for perioperative care coordination include manually intensive tasks, wasteful activities, one-size-fits-all approach, and lack of visibility, there is no alignment on the answer.  More than three quarters (78%) of clinical and IT leaders/directors believe that technologies, such as electronic health records (EHRs), should be able to address these challenges. Nearly one-quarter (23%) of respondents said technology could increase efficiency and compensate for chronic understaffing of nurses and other clinicians.