6 Benefits of Implementing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in Healthcare
This article was initially published in September 2019 and was updated in May 2020.
In May 2019, McKinsey mentioned robotic process automation as one of the emerging technologies that will reshape healthcare and create between $350 billion and $410 billion in annual value by 2025.
In 2020, as the situation across the world rapidly changed from business as usual to adapting through a pandemic, RPA is already being implemented to accelerate operations in healthcare, helping organizations and professionals deal with the overwhelm caused by CoVid-19.
UiPath has gathered over 30 CoVid-19 use cases to date. Among the use cases, is a hospital in Dublin that uses the company’s RPA bots to process testing kits results within minutes, thus saving an average of 3 hours per day in the nursing department. Another example is that of a clinic in Cleveland, which used RPA for patient intake tasks such as registering a patient or looking her up in the electronic medical record. The delivery of results was done in seconds as opposed to minutes when the tasks were performed manually.
It’s not just hospitals that have been using RPA during this pandemic, the U.S government has worked with UiPath to implement the use of 500 bots for coronavirus related data analysis. RPA bots can even help the usual person with healthcare. By having a bot deliver specific CoVid-19 news and stats about your community based on your zip code, it saves you from the mental overwhelm of worldwide news on the matter.
It’s clear that automation trends are here to stay, and technologies such as RPA will change for better the way the healthcare system works and its impact on people’s lives.
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According to a McKinsey report from 2016, the healthcare sector had a 36% technical potential for automation. The authors of a 2019 study published in JMIR Research Protocols firmly assert that “the future health sector will undoubtedly involve automation of routine task”.
Implementing robotic process automation in healthcare is expected to be the largest driver of further automation. This is not difficult to understand if you are aware not only of the resultant increase in the productivity of human employees but also of the fact that some forms of automation indirectly create not only more work for humans but also higher value work.
Scheduling, physician order entry, laboratory test-review tasks, personal health records, automation of data collection from patients in the waiting room, electronic medical records, remote test ordering and repetition of prescriptions, clinical decision–support systems, telehealth and telemedicine systems — are just a few of the large spectrum of RPA application areas in healthcare.
Let’s take a look at them individually, to help you get a more practice-oriented idea about the deployment of robotic process automation in healthcare. You can also check a more comprehensive list of RPA use cases in healthcare here.
More effective patients’ scheduling
Software robots can streamline online scheduling. Factors received via the appointment request, like diagnosis, location, insurance carrier, personal preferences, etc., can be gathered in a report and forwarded to a referral management representative who actually makes the appointment.
Who will benefit? Simply put, everybody: an easier job for the call centre personnel, fewer mistakes, more satisfied customers, and more evenly distributed appointments across doctors’ working time.
Improvement of the care cycle
RPA boosts data analytics and thus it makes continuous record monitoring possible. Analysing comprehensive amounts of data increases the likelihood of a more accurate diagnosis, which leads to better-tailored treatment strategies.
In fact, research is showing that automation in medical records leads to a reduction in deaths, as well as complications. This is why a better care cycle is one of the many positive upshots of improved analytics.
Additionally, doctors who don’t have to manually track potentially very large amounts of data because the bots can do it can invest more time in attending to and providing human assistance to their patients. This is yet another illustration of a paradoxically humanist outcome of RPA deployment — the fact that technology makes people matter.
Improvement of the revenue cycle functions (new patient appointment requests, patient pre-arrival, and arrival, claim denials, billing, etc.)
Revenue cycles often involve many code changes which can be burdensome for the system. Robotic process automation is the right measure to ensure seamless adaptation to these modifications, and therefore an overall coherence.
These administrative processes get a boost from data digitisation and from the automation of repetitive tasks like accounts payable. According to Rod Dunlap, a Director in the RPA practice of Alsbridge Inc., up to 80% of claims and billing can be more effectively processed by the deployment of software robots.
Streamlined management of healthcare workflows
Read, population wellness, case and utilization management, healthcare management and coordination, or remote monitoring. All these are key aspects for both healthcare providers and patients. They involve numerous high-frequency, high-volume, repetitive tasks, which can be more efficiently completed by software robots. The end result? Lower costs for providers, and improved service for clients.
Top benefits of robotic process automation in healthcare
As in all other industry sectors, the primary argument for having routine based, monotonous tasks like the examples above performed by software robots rather than manually, is supported by the concrete benefits of robotic process automation in healthcare.
In short, automated processes are faster, more streamlined, and less marred by errors, resulting in redundancy elimination and simplified workflows. This accelerates clinical trials and drug approvals and improves healthcare delivery. Healthcare clients, i.e., the patients, are the primary beneficiaries.
Consequently, the clinic itself and its employees will notice the gains and, quite likely, be more determined to continue the automation journey.
1. Processing cost reductions
UiPath reports the success story of implementing RPA in a hospital that needed to increase operational control in order to improve patients’ experience. Automating revenue cycle functions like claims or billing, for instance, resulted in cutting down the cost from $4 to $1 per claim.