Every day, in every corner, automation powers commerce, determines eligibility, manages inventory, performs QA, directs transportation, detects fraud and many other complex applications. The following depicts an evening shift following “Billie,” a fictional emergency doctor, at “Metro” a fictional urban hospital, based on Atlanta’s Grady Memorial and Northside Hospital. All automation depictions, while fictitious in setting, are very real in possibility.
Billie looked up at the clock while finishing her usual turkey burger and fries. As an emergency doctor at Metropolitan Medical, she knew an active night awaited. Regardless of the sky’s clear, full moon and its supposed swell of “customers,” any night at one of the region’s largest medical centers could be hectic. It was twelve minutes till her shift and time to go.
Built in the 1890s, Metro’s original red-brick building has grown to a 700-bed facility, composed of an unwieldy phalanx of structures connecting. Making it from the cafeteria in time to check in at the emergency desk involved navigating a complex maze of hallways and habitrails that Billie had nailed to the minute.
While the sprawling urban facility is celebrating its eighth decade, its operations are very much on the cutting edge. Forward-looking administrators turned to a powerful ally to contend with rising costs and competition: no-code automation. Metro’s doctors, nurses, lab techs, imaging techs, billing and administrative specialists and ultimately its patients all enjoy the dynamic benefits of a HIPAA-compliant automation platform.
Turkey burger, fries and adrenaline
For Billie, a science whiz, athlete and adrenaline junkie, the emergency department was a natural draw. And the region’s only level-five facility is the major leagues. She clears her tray at the bussing station, well-fueled for the challenges ahead. Food services always served up an inexpensive, tasty selection to the hundreds of daily diners. Thanks to decision and process automation, managers keep tight control of inventory and vendor quality and performance.
Exiting the cafeteria, she heads down a long hallway. To her right is records administration, which uses process automation to facilitate accurate, instant record retrieval and timely correspondence. Next door is the billing department, which leverages decision automation to make instant insurance coverage and assistance eligibility determinations. Further down is the training office, responsible for coordinating the hospital’s accreditation efforts. Its staff swears by its automation metrics to aid QA efforts, maintaining commission standards and breezing through unannounced inspections.
Billie confidently strides down her winding path, skillfully avoiding the oncoming stream of visitors, doctors, staff and assorted carts and wheeled devices. She navigates the way like second nature after weeks of wrong turns. Crossing Metro’s main entryway, she passes human resources. Since employing process automation, the department has undergone quite a transformation. Billie really appreciated her painless, yet comprehensive onboarding. HR staff appreciates having a flawless, tireless virtual team member to rely on for detailed documentation and legal compliance.
With a couple of extra minutes to spare, Billie takes a short detour to check out the newborns in obstetrics. The care of all the babies behind the viewing window as those in the neonatal intensive care, as well as every in-patient in the entire facility, is strictly regulated through automation. Blood pressure, respiration and heart monitor readings are tracked by machine learning to identify trends and alert medical staff to potential complications requiring intervention. Medication administration and doctors’ orders are all controlled through decision logic that can be updated directly by supervising physicians through plain-language business rules. At the moment, AI technology is not top of mind for Billie, who simply enjoys all the cherubic faces resting peacefully. A stark contrast to the sights and sounds awaiting her on the ground floor.
A universe unto itself
Billie’s heart rate quickens slightly as she heads down a side stairwell to the large, bustling emergency section. The emergency department at Metro is a vast universe unto itself. Situated in the heart of downtown, the only level-one trauma facility for over a 100-mile radius is the nightly depository of all the region’s mayhem. Any moment can bring an influx of adults and children suffering from gunshots, stabbings, auto accidents, heart attacks, poisonings and any number of other causes. It’s also the only source of medical care for many walk-ins. As the city’s population has grown, so has the burden on Metro’s ER, as well as its ICU and in-patient floors above.
Spread out over an acre and a half, the ER’s 80 beds are divided into a red zone for trauma cases and a blue zone for medical cases. On busy nights patients on gurneys line the hallways, waiting for a bed. Just as the capabilities of automation infuse the rest of the hospital, they bestow vital superpowers to dedicated, overworked doctors and nurses.
Billie checks in at the bustling nurses’ station. Tonight, she’s attending to patients on the blue medical side. First up for her is a patient in treatment room 2, a middle-aged man suffering from shortness of breath. While walk-in patients can still wait hours to receive treatment, automated decisions and processes streamline triage and dramatically reduce wait times. She pulls the curtain to reveal the gentleman sitting on the room bed. She gives him her usual warm smile and asks what’s wrong. As indicated in his triage notes in her tablet interface, the gentleman reports labored breathing with no other acute symptoms.
Respiratory ailments are notorious for their potential difficulty in diagnosis. Relatively benign causes include seasonal asthma, smog inhalation and mild infection. Billie goes through her standard exam, listening to his breathing through her stethoscope and manually checking his pulse. Clearly, he was suffering, but from what? His intake writeup indicates he’s a smoker with a history of heart disease, factors which may mask other afflictions. Machine learning diagnostic support provides a possible answer. Analysis of his vital signs and medical history against nationwide databases yields an alarming prediction. He may be suffering from a pulmonary embolism, a blot clot in the lung.
An experienced clinician, Billie assesses the man’s condition and senses the ML prediction could be right on. She immediately called for a CT scan of his lungs. The scan does indeed reveal the embolism, a ticking time bomb in immediate need of diffusing. She orders clot-busting infusions STAT. And off the man goes for life-saving catheterization therapy, which takes 24 hours, but ultimately proves successful – another positive outcome, thanks to Billie, her fellow skilled caregivers and their shared superpowers of automation.
It is indeed a good outcome. But for Billie, there’s a long night and many patients to go. For Metro and its staff, there are many nights and days to go, and ever-growing numbers of people to treat. With the powers of automation on board, they’re well-equipped for the journey.
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