Guest Column | December 18, 2019

Enhancing The Patient Journey Through Intelligent Automation

By Broderick Jones

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As the healthcare model continues to evolve, life science companies, providers, and pharmacies remain focused on enhancing the customer experience with broader commercial services. To be successful, companies must find a way to meet high patient expectations while also maintaining tight cost control. Over the next few years, the industry will begin to see an increased use of intelligent automation (IA) to address these challenges and integrate providers, manufacturers, distributors, and payors.

The Automated Patient Journey

Automated solutions generally start with using bots to match repetitive processes or the actions of humans interacting with digital systems. These tasks may include passing data to various applications and external systems, manipulating data, triggering responses, or executing transactions. The continued use of bots can drive down the cost of healthcare with its ability to reduce errors, streamline workflows, and save time and resources.

In thinking about how to apply IA to the patient journey, imagine an automated, integrated healthcare model capable of anticipating treatment needs for manufacturing biopharmaceutical products. Let’s examine how IA coupled with other technology solutions could lead to a more effective process from origination to persistence.

Patient – Expediting Origination to Evaluation

Patient connectivity is the primary driver of the automated patient journey (APJ). Soon, advancements in digital health solutions (DHS) will allow providers, manufacturers, distributors, and payors to stay connected. Consider a DHS, such as a wearable or MHealth app, capable of monitoring patient vitals like glucose, blood pressure, or cholesterol. When the DHS notices an abnormal reading, it will notify patients to make an appointment with their physician for evaluation.   

Providers – Initiating Rapid Diagnosis to Treatment

Now that the appointment has been filed, the next step of the APJ entails the bots transferring patient vitals to the EMR to provide the doctor with real-time data. For extreme cases, the bots will contact a healthcare provider or hospital to address an emergency.  The bots will also provide a pre-diagnosis based on the information transferred from the DHS, including current medications, BMI, sleep patterns, hormone fluctuations, and required testing, to create a patient profile for treatment. The compiled data will allow the provider to prioritize appointments based on the patient need. This level of integration will address common issues plaguing providers by reducing workloads associated with pre-diagnosis and resolving capacity issues in scheduling and time management so the provider can handle patient needs. Now, the provider can effectively manage the day knowing how many patients can be seen and the practical solutions for treatment, prior to entering a patient room. Finally, upon diagnosis confirmation, the bots will transfer EMR information to the pharmacy for dispensing the appropriate treatment regimen.

Payers/Distributors/Manufacturers – Delivering Adherence to Persistence  

Following the appointment, the APJ will transfer EMR information to the pharmacy. In parallel, the treatment regimen is confirmed by the patient’s managed care organization (MCO). The MCO will review the treatment regimen to ensure compliance, as well as provide the patient with the most cost-effective products available. The patient will then choose the options available for fulfillment. The information will also be shared with distributors to ensure proper supply is available in the pharmacy. If a shortage is detected, the APJ will notify the pharmaceutical manufacturer to increase production, including what formulations are required (e.g. enteral, parenteral or topical). This level of integration will allow the pharma company, MCO, and pharmacy to decrease costs, increase output and allow for further collaboration in servicing patient needs. 

This example highlights how IA can address the challenges in a patient journey to improve the customer experience. As we start to see this technology being applied more frequently, all members of the healthcare ecosystem can better focus on value-add activities to advance unmet patient needs using integrated solutions, enhanced data-sharing, and process automation.

Bio: Broderick Jones is managing principal, Healthcare & Life Sciences, at EPAM Continuum. For 20+ years, he has focused on commercial strategy and operations in the healthcare industry to drive customer-centered enterprise transformation and deliver tangible results.