Automation can deliver better patient care, say 74% of Healthcare HR leaders – but public healthcare is falling behind


Digital technologies and process automation are pivotal to our healthcare system delivering more staff, training, and better patient care. However, new insights from OpenSky’s Healthcare Leaders Survey 2021 suggest that healthcare tech is falling behind. 

Automation and modernising the systems our healthcare organisations use are critical for unlocking better healthcare profession training, more and faster doctor recruitment, better staff retention, and more effective healthcare delivery. However, a recent survey of 100 HR and IT leaders from Ireland's largest public and private healthcare sector organisations suggests that the public health system is falling behind. 

The Healthcare Leaders 2021 survey, conducted by OpenSky Data Systems through Censuswide, asked senior figures and leaders of HR and IT departments in Irish public and private healthcare organisations a range of questions related to attitudes towards platform digitisation, HR automation, and the effect of automation on healthcare service delivery.  

The survey found that the current management of HR processes lacks many of the modern digital functionalities and efficiencies that have become commonplace in the other sectors. What's more, the survey provided evidence that the healthcare system’s ability to delivery safe, affordable, and accessible care is inextricably tied to its administrative capabilities. In short, more efficient hospital processes and systems means better patient care, better staff retention, and better public health service.   

Automated processes within modern HR systems translates to more time for Healthcare HR departments to recruit, manage, and retain staff, directly leading to better quality of care for the average Irish patient; nearly 70% of HR healthcare leaders agree that staff retention can directly improve the quality of care to patients. 

Survey respondents reported that inefficient and dated systems don’t just create bottlenecks in the management of healthcare systems – they also  create hurdles that block fast and effective healthcare delivery. In fact, 74% of HR healthcare leaders agreed that further automation would reduce inefficiencies, inaccuracies and reduce valuable time wasted by skilled staff.

However, the Irish public healthcare system is falling behind the private sector when it comes to modernisation and digitisation of its processes and systems. Our survey found that over 60% of Ireland’s Healthcare IT leaders agree that healthcare tech is falling behind other industries. And worryingly, while 92% of private HR directors are investing in tech, only 64% in the public sector say they are investing in technology to support achieving HR strategic goals, such as increasing staff retention. 

The results of this survey are significant because they demonstrate that if the bold 2024 Sláintecare reform policy hopes to reach its intended goals, more effort and haste needs to be put into investing in modernised systems in healthcare. Process Automation is vital to the delivery of effective, equitable, and affordable public health services. Not only does automation make it easier to train, manage, and regulate healthcare services, it also simplifies the processes involved in supporting, training, and retaining skilled healthcare professionals, a key factor in Ireland’s years-long issues with healthcare service delivery.

If Sláintecare is to succeed, public healthcare needs to accelerate its adoption of modern digital platforms and processes.