Pharmacists and Cowboys
ASHP Midyear was back in person this December for the first time after COVID-19 shuttered the world nearly three years ago, and I have to say it was great to be back representing Plenful, our automation software enabled by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
Mandalay Bay was a full house with over 20,000 hospital pharmacists, operators, students, and innovative companies meeting in person again. The national rodeo was also in town, which made for some fun interactions in the hallways. We saw a healthy mix of bolo ties and exhibitor lanyards, cowboy hats and sports coats, and a surprising 50/50 split of “yeehaw’s” from both groups in attendance.
Things have changed since Midyear 2019
Reconnecting with old friends and colleagues is always fun, especially if it’s been awhile. It was great to see how much has happened over the past three years. Great leaders earned big promotions, some folks moved cross country to join new teams, and others launched their own companies. I took a step back last week to appreciate the big picture and reflect on all the changes, challenges and excitement to come in the new year.
ASHP 2022 Midyear Learnings
A recurring theme this year focused on the widespread challenges that all healthcare leaders are experiencing, with the impacts of COVID-19 being highlighted in particular. The pandemic exposed and exacerbated one of the most pervasive problems our healthcare system faces today: Overworked staff and burnout caregivers.
While other industries isolated their workforce and transitioned staff to work from home, hospital teams (and specifically hospital pharmacists), continued in person on the frontlines.
The burden became so heavy that the Great Resignation hit healthcare particularly hard, driving almost 2M people to quit their healthcare jobs in 2022. That's nearly 3% of the entire healthcare workforce each month
*If interested in learning more about healthcare staff burnout - you can read more from Deb Gordon
ASHP cited a 40% pharmacy technician shortage nationally and just last week, several of the largest health systems in Massachusetts reported multi million-dollar operating losses driven primarily by labor shortages and problems with patient discharge (The Boston Globe).
Dr. Eric Dickson, CEO of UMass Memorial Health, summed it up in a single statement:
“it’s an ugly year in health care”.
Leaders agree that healthcare staff are burnout in large part because of the inefficient, administrative workflows that overburden their teams’ bandwidth. The truth is our healthcare system simply cannot function without caregivers in the four walls interacting with patients face to face.
The macroeconomic environment, including rising inflation, a diving stock market, and financial uncertainty, has also made it difficult for hospitals to budget and perform well. And making matters even worse, hospitals are facing new COVID surges, RSV, and record-breaking flu numbers this season. One thing is clear, to deliver high quality patient care, healthcare teams need a leg up.
The healthcare industry has a poor track record of adopting tech innovation. Since the rollout of the Electronic Health Record in 2007, few technologies have driven significant workflow efficiencies. Instead, teams have become more specialized, highly trained and thus more difficult to replace when the inevitable turnover occurs. Unfortunately, care teams are losing multiple hours every day to archaic administrative tasks (like manual data entry, repetitive report pulling, Excel spreadsheet management and even the dreaded fax machine where paper-based workflows still exist).
What can leadership to do to help?
Workflow Automation Software Enabled by AI
Along with ASHP Midyear and the national rodeo, OpenAI and ChatGPT were catching people’s attention last week, making Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning top of mind. This sparked exciting conversation between myself and other ASHP attendees around how AI is enabling workflow automation software to become more efficient and more accurate.
Plenful is leading that charge by making a meaningful impact on labor costs for pharmacies, health systems, health plans, long term care and other organizations across the industry. Over the past three years, Plenful has built an incredibly powerful AI automation and Machine Learning platform designed by healthcare operators, for healthcare operators. No code infrastructure enables teams to easily implement technology to:
Eliminate data entry (from handwritten forms, faxed documents, and prescriptions)
Automate 340B claims qualification, HRSA mock-auditing and ESP reporting
Streamline Patient Assistance Programs
Trigger secure communication through automated SMS, email, and webforms
The speed of adoption is increasing, and the manual workflows are decreasing. Our Plenful partners are seeing staffing burdens lift in a matter of weeks, giving teams more time back in the day, the ability to practice at the top of licensure and the luxury of reinvesting time and resources into other projects. Imagine the impact on the overall system if every team could tap into this type of efficiency and reallocate several hours per employee per day. We are seeing this solution directly impact labor costs, lead to resource reinvestment and ultimately save millions of dollars in operating expenses.
Plenful is optimizing healthcare staff so that teams can prioritize delivering the best possible patient care. These are the building blocks needed to create a better overall system. A system that is more efficient, more affordable, and more effective at delivering better outcomes.
In the face of adversity, innovative companies are deploying new technologies and creating a better healthcare system. I believe we will see this trend continue and even accelerate in 2023 and beyond. This is a great thing for patient care, healthcare staff, and our healthcare system overall. Here’s to a healthy future.
- Matt Savard
To learn more about Plenful and how your operation could benefit from automation, schedule a meeting or free ROI Opportunity analysis with Matt here https://calendly.com/matt-plenful/meeting