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Automation Alarmists

“The next wave of economic dislocations won’t come from overseas, it will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good, middle-class jobs obsolete.” – President Obama in his farewell address

“I’m running for president because we need to understand that artificial intelligence and robotics must benefit the needs of workers, not just corporate America and those who own that technology.” – Bernie Sanders announcing his 2020 presidential candidacy

Many politicians and others are jumping on the alarmist anti-automation bandwagon warning us that ‘automation is killing jobs,’ but that’s not the whole story.  Let’s take a look at ATM’s, automatic teller machines as an example of automation. When introduced in the 1970s many worried that automating transactions such as deposits and withdrawals would lead to wholesale unemployment for bank tellers. Furthermore, since the 1970s, ATM’s and automated banking services, both through ATM’s and online, have increased dramatically.

However, not only were there no mass layoffs due to banking automation, teller hiring & bank profitability increased!!

As this chart from “Learning by Doing: The Real Connection between Innovation, Wages, and Wealth” by James Bessen shows:

Chart showing rise of ATM's and increase of bank teller


Bessen explains: “Basically, starting in the mid-1990s, ATM machines came in in big numbers. We have, now, something like 400,000-some installed in the United States. And everybody assumed –including some of the bank managers, at first — that this was going to eliminate the teller job. And it didn’t. In fact, since 2000, not only have teller jobs increased, but they’ve been growing a bit faster than the labor force as a whole. That may eventually change. But the impact of the ATM machine was not to destroy tellers, actually it was to increase it.”

Bessen continues, “The same thing was seen in the 19th century with the textile industry. Almost all of the work was automated, yet the number of weavers continued to grow for decades. More automation meant the price of cotton cloth fell, and people used more of it.”



Manual Tasks Put Your Hospice Agency At Risk

Hospice Item Set (HIS) forms are a great example of manual tasks that expose your hospice agency to significant risk.

HIS forms are a regulatory requirement. Not completing them in a timely fashion can impact payments to your hospice agency. Many hospice agencies are completing HIS forms as a series of manual tasks by multiple people. The Nurse must complete a paper HIS form for each and every patient. Then the nurse has to get that form to the office by email, fax, or physically handing it in. Then the compliance officer manually enters the data from each and every form into the CMS Hart System. The HART system is a local app running on a local machine, which opens up a whole other set of potential risks such as interoperability and security. The officer also runs a report to make sure that all patients’ HIS forms were completed and received. If any forms or data are missing the compliance officer has to find & contact the nurse for each patient where a form or data is missing and make sure they complete and forward the missing forms or incomplete data. After all the patients’ HIS forms and data are forwarded and completed in HART the compliance officer then exports a zip file from HART and uploads the file to CMS QIES.

This tedious manual error-prone process is then recreated every day!

Here is a flow chart describing this confounding manual workflow:


Flowchart for Hospice HIS form manual entry process


The manual HIS process is time consuming & prone to errors which puts payments to your agency at unnecessary and significant risk! 


The Benefits Of Automation

Unlike most hospice EMRs which were built using legacy technology where forms are hard coded in the system, Hospice Tools has what we call a ‘flexible-forms library’. That means that our extensive library of forms is not hard-coded in the system but exists in our integrated form-building library. When a clinician needs a form, it’s automatically pulled from the library and materializes in the EMR on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile device, on the spot. This flexible forms library allows us to add, remove, edit and customize forms and specific functionality of fields within forms.

Using our flexible structure we added functionality to fields in standard documentation such as intake & comprehensive assessment forms that flow automatically into an electronic HIS admission form. This automation skips the HART system entirely and allows completed HIS forms to be created with the push of a button downloaded as a zip file for both individual patients and batches of patients.

Compare the Hospice Tools automated HIS workflow:


Flowchart Hospice Tools Automated HIS process

See for yourself how Hospice Tools delivers a better HIS process with user-friendly charting & automatic compliance.

Despite what the alarmists are saying, automating these types of manual processes will not eliminate these positions.

What automation will do is protect your hospice agency from reduced payments & survey deficiencies. Further, automating these tasks will free your nurses & compliance officers from tedious error-prone manual data-entry to focus on more important issues. And, a significant but often overlooked added bonus is improved employee morale. When people spend their days working on more meaningful job functions, such as patient care, and manual tasks like data-entry are simplified and automated, employees report higher job satisfaction.

Improved processes is one of the reasons why Hospice Tools pricing is per-user and not census-based. Hospice Tools is designed by hospice & palliative professionals to streamline, simplify, and automate processes. If your agency can increase your census without increasing your headcount, you shouldn’t pay more. That’s the whole point of using an EMR, to be more efficient while improving patient care. Census-based pricing is a penalty on efficiency. Check out our no-risk free trial and see what Hospice Tools can do for you!

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Automating HIS is part 1 in a series of better hospice through automation. If you have any questions or comments drop us a line using the message box below.