EDITOR ’ S QUESTION
Healthcare organisations and their staff are struggling under immense pressure to treat patients with increasingly complex needs . With budgets tighter than ever and the impact of the pandemic continuing to impact service delivery , healthcare teams are burning out at a dangerous rate .
Today ’ s crisis is a threat to the long-term viability of the public healthcare model .
In the UK , chronic staff shortages mean that staff regularly work overtime or cancel planned leave to help out desperate colleagues . Yet , despite their tireless efforts , elective care waiting lists are predicted to exceed 10 million by March 2024 and up to 22,000 appointments are cancelled every single day .
Salvation via technology ? case today . One factor limiting the pace and scale of tech adoption is a reluctance from some healthcare workforce members to engage with automation software , and a preference to stick with traditional , manual processes .
Clearly , today ’ s crisis is a threat to the long-term viability of the public healthcare model . As a doctor with experience working in the NHS , I ’ m well aware that the root causes are both complex and multiple and there ’ s not one single solution that ‘ fixes ’ the high rates of burnout .
However , the last five years have seen a huge uptick in the rate of innovation in health tech . Huge efforts and investments have been directed towards building technologies designed specifically to streamline operations and reduce workloads for staff . These include automated patient communication software , automated HR platforms to accelerate hiring and onboarding , smart rota planning programmes and AIpowered diagnostic support tools .
Advances in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are cause for hope for the future of healthcare services . The solutions that are being developed , piloted and implemented have a pivotal role to play in re-balancing system demand with capacity in a sustainable way .
However , this cannot happen unless the technologies are deployed to their full potential . This is far from the
The term ‘ automation anxiety ’ can be applied in this context to summarise the negative feeling and lack of enthusiasm towards deploying automation technologies in a healthcare setting .
Automation anxiety can be experienced even by the most tech-savvy and passionate staff members – this is not a condition of ignorance , close-mindedness or an indication that employees do not want what ’ s best for their patients . Rather , automation anxiety can be triggered by a range of factors , including job security concerns , patient safety worries or inadequate training or time to engage with new tech initiatives .
The crux of the problem is that without deploying automation technologies quickly and widely across healthcare systems , staff will have to work in environments that are increasingly overstretched and under-resourced . This will increase rates of burnout and worsen workforce shortages in a vicious cycle . Thus , maintaining the status quo is not an option . Instead , healthcare leaders must look to support their staff to overcome automation anxiety and engage with new technology . p
KIT LATHAM , CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF CREDENTIALLY
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