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Why Most Healthcare Leaders Are Utilizing Automation to Alleviate Staff Shortages

Analysis  |  By Jay Asser  
   June 27, 2024

A new survey underscores the importance of technology investments to address the workforce.

As providers grapple with workforce shortages, automation has quickly become a sought-after solution for leaders seeking to lessen the workload on their staff.

Organizations recognize the value of investing in automation to reduce burnout and human error to make it easier for clinicians to deliver care, according to a report by technology company Royal Philips.

Nearly 3,000 surveyed leaders worldwide expressed optimism about the future of automation in the industry. Around nine in 10 respondents (88%) said the use of technology to automate repetitive tasks or processes is critical for addressing staff shortages, while 84% indicated automation will save staff time by reducing their day-to-day administrative tasks and 76% reported automation will allow workers to perform at their highest skill level.

The areas where the most leaders have already implemented automation are billing processes (47%), clinical documentation/notetaking (44%), and clinical data entry (43%).

Despite only 25% of respondents having implemented automation in workflow prioritization, that is seen as the biggest opportunity for investment going forward, with 44% of leaders planning to implement automation there within the next three years.

However, many are still cautious about diving head-first into automation. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (65%) reported skepticism among their staff about the use of automation, while 79% of leaders themselves said they are concerned about the possibility of data bias in AI applications exacerbating disparities in health outcomes.

When implementing automation or AI, organizations must properly train and educate their workers to understand how those solutions should and shouldn’t be used. By creating more transparency around solutions and having effective data collection in place to quantify its impact, leaders can combat the risks associated with the technology.

What’s clear, though, is that providers’ labor strategies must include investments in automation to lift the administrative burden off clinicians’ shoulders, resulting in a more engaged, sustainable workforce for the future.

“It's critical that we change our processes and we add the technology that can facilitate a different kind of work stream,” Banner Health CEO Amy Perry recently told HealthLeaders. “We talk a lot at Banner about the fact that we just can't ask people to do more with the same number of people without changing the process. It's absolutely impossible. It's not sustainable.”

Jay Asser is the contributing editor for strategy at HealthLeaders. 


Most leaders agree that automation of repetitive administrative tasks is vital to easing staff shortages due to its ability save staff time and allow them to perform at their highest skill level.

Workflow prioritization is considered a major opportunity for automation investment, with 44% of leaders surveyed in a report by Royal Philips planning to implement there within the next three years.

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