5 Questions to Prepare for Better Workflow Automation

Prepare for workflow automation
Prepare for workflow automation

Darren Mathis

A simple process to identify opportunities for workflow automation

The staffing shortage has led many operators across the spectrum of senior care to look for ways to maximize employee time by improving workflow efficiency. Never has it been more important to make sure that your valuable employees are spending as much of their time in resident-facing activities than it is today.

Most would agree that one can only go so far improving workflow efficiency without automation. Automation, after all, takes repetitive tasks off the backs of employees as well as increasing accuracy.

But how do you decide which processes will benefit the most from automation?

One of the most time-consuming aspects of automation is what you need to do before you implement workflow management software. That includes all the organization needed to make sure you are automating the right things, in the right order, and that you’re using a platform that centralizes and shares information with key stakeholders.  

Whether you operate an SNF or senior living community, the best way to do this is to conduct an audit of the various processes undertaken by your staff. Only then can you identify and prepare the most time-consuming tasks for automation.  

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Here are five key questions to ask yourself and your team to get the automation wheels turning:

  1. Which back-end processes take up the most employee time and why? The key to this is to identify processes that include multiple, repetitive tasks. Good examples of this might be payroll, billing, referral management, and admissions processes. All qualify, as each involve an abundance of paperwork that must be completed, with signatures and details that must be entered over and over again. In addition to being time-consuming, manual entry increases the potential for human error.
  2. What impact does this have on the community? In other words, how is this negatively impacting the day-to-day activities of residents and/or staff? What could they be doing instead? In the case of admissions, for example, manual processes 1) take valuable time away from getting to know the residents, 2) open up the community to errors and even potential liability if all the paperwork is not signed and processed properly, and 3) get the move-in off to a slow start. All this, as you can imagine, has a negative impact on the brand.
  3. How can this process be shortened? This will take some time to determine. It is probably the most time intensive piece of preparation for automation because, to automate processes, each step needs to be carefully documented. At the very least you will want to meet with key individuals who can help identify each step and how it impacts workflow. You may want to consider bringing a consultant in who has expertise in this area.
  4. What short term impact will shortening the process have on the community? The two primary areas where automation will have its impact will be on time savings and accuracy, which optimizes compliance. Both have a direct bearing on operations cost. Being able to share information should also quickly increase management oversight as well as collaboration among staff.
  5. What long term benefits will be achieved by automating this process? A successful automation should yield a positive ripple effect in other areas of the organization. When employees are able to spend more of their time using their talents and less conducting laborious, time intensive tasks, it raises the bar on performance. It also can improve the quality of care. These can strengthen your brand and improve your marketing programs.

Automating in key areas is essential to an operationally efficient organization. Skilled nursing and Senior living are no exception. In fact, given the challenges of finding and retaining talent, those communities that have taken the time and effort to streamline and automate tedious, error-prone tasks will enjoy a clear advantage over those which do not.

The biggest mistake you can make is to remain frozen in outdated processes.

Employees, residents and families are well aware of the benefits of automation. After all, they use automation technology in their daily lives to save themselves time and optimize their personal interactions. They have the same expectations of the organizations they do business with, whether it’s a work environment or a place for an aging loved one to live.

The biggest mistake you can make is to remain frozen in outdated processes simply because you chose not to take the time up front to audit, organize and prepare them for automation. Taking the time now to find smart ways to use automation for your team and your residents will pay strong dividends in the months and years ahead.

LincWare is a workflow problem-solving company with a mission to help remove the obstacles that keep you and your senior care teams from spending time on the work that really matters.

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