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Healthcare Automation Is Coming And It's Coming Fast
Hospital staff loading station

Vaibhav Barot | 11 January, 2024

The Current State of Healthcare Automation

We’re fast approaching a new era in healthcare, an era where automation technology is not just an add-on but an integral component of every aspect of patient care. In fact, these automation technologies will inevitably revolutionize how we understand, manage, design, and deliver healthcare services.

Already, todays automation technology is used by large hospitals to help:

  • Pick, package, and track thousands of doses of medication
  • Transport multiple tube system carriers at once
  • Find areas of concern on an X-ray (using AI)
  • Perform facilities maintenance and repair
  • Help patients manage records
  • Help administrative staff manage relationships with patients
  • Run engineering simulations (for infrastructure builds like the tube system)

Why Automation is Critical to a Futureproof Plan

As medical practices evolve, healthcare providers are grappling with an overwhelming amount of data, be it patient records, treatment plans, or administrative information. Furthermore, hospitals must also plan for the unexpected – such as in the case of a natural disaster, pandemic, labor shortages, or any other instance where demand for care may rise sharply.

By automating repetitive tasks such as data entry, medication picking, courier delivery, inventory management, and more, healthcare providers can focus more on what truly matters: patient care, even in the event of a natural disaster, a pandemic, or an act-of-God event. This also helps employees find work-related satisfaction by freeing them up to focus on the core of their job.

In our on-demand Flexibility is Futureproof Webinar, our experts Rob Banis and Larry Bray weigh in on this very topic by taking what they've been hearing from their customers and having a candid yet informed conversation.

Automation and Pneumatic Tube Systems

In the blog “The Hospital Tube System & Pharmacy Workflow”, we cover the pneumatic tube system’s role in connecting internal supply chains, and how efficiencies gained in the pharmacy can be lost if the tube system is not functioning or performing as it should be.

Some notable technologies driving automation within the realm of pneumatic tube systems include:

  • RFID Carrier Tracking: RFID technology allows the system to automatically track the location of the carrier and whether the transaction was successful. Should something go wrong, the system can give maintenance staff location data to remedy the issue. This technology also allows the system to monitor and automatically control traffic as needed to maximize efficiency.
  • Updated Stations: In many hospitals, the same pneumatic tube system has been supporting operations for over a decade. It’s the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality – and that makes sense. However, tube systems that have upgraded to the latest stations – like the TransLogic Nexus station – possess a serious advantage over those of old.

    New stations (when paired with RFID carrier tracking and software management) can send multiple carriers to multiple destinations at once. This saves staff time when using the station, which adds up when hundreds or thousands of transactions are made per day.
  • Neuron7 AI: Artificial intelligence has been a hot topic lately, thanks to impressive advances with Large Language Models (LLMs) like Chat GPT-4. Not surprisingly, industry leaders across the board are searching for new ways to harness the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Today, TransLogic is utilizing the latest AI through Neuron7.

    We have an entire blog dedicated to this very topic, but the idea is this: Neuron7 draws on years of customer and system data to help maintenance personnel diagnose issues more quickly and more accurately. The result? Repair that requires less time – which is critical when considering the pneumatic tube system’s effect on the bottom line.
Staff using touch screen
TransLogic Nexus Station

The Future of Healthcare Automation

In the ever-complex, ever-evolving, landscape of healthcare investments in automation technology is inevitable. A recent study by McKinsey & Company confirms that adopting digital technologies can save the healthcare industry up to $300 billion – but the potential doesn’t stop there. New AI technology means efficiency could be increased across the board. When paired with other automations, like an automated pharmacy solution, the savings become even more promising for healthcare institutions.

Conclusion

The road to a fully automated healthcare system is not without its challenges, from ensuring data security to implementing effective change management processes. However, the long-term benefits—improved operational efficiencies, cost savings, and enhanced patient care—far outweigh the hurdles. As technology continues to advance, it’s not a question of if automation will be essential in healthcare, but when.