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Tech Talk
Tech Talk Posted on Apr 9, 2024   |  6 Min Read

The healthcare industry, while constantly innovating in patient care, often struggles with administrative tasks. A majority of these non-core but important functions such as patient onboarding, appointment scheduling, medical billing, claims processing, prescription management, and so on are performed manually. This not only adversely impacts the bottom-line efficiency, but also leads to higher healthcare operational costs. Additionally, performing such ancillary operations manually implies a longer turnaround time needed to deliver optimal patient care—especially in the highly sensitive industry. Robotic process automation in healthcare, therefore, emerges as a blessing in overcoming such challenges and providing value-based care to patients.

Role of RPA in Healthcare

RPA in Healthcare: Making the Paradigm Shift

Think of the information collected and handled by healthcare institutions regularly. They get data from a range of internal and external sources, including EHR applications, ERPs, claims management, scheduling software, third-party portals, clinical apps, radiological information systems, and more. All this information must be integrated seamlessly with the institutional workflows to ensure timely analysis of the reports so that value-based healthcare can be delivered to patients.

Other than the administrative workload, there’s an increasing volume of patients, each seeking personalized care and communication. As a result, physicians are under constant pressure, juggling between an endless number of activities. This leads to poor patient experiences, short staffing, overworked employees, and physician burnout. To better understand this situation, take a look at the following stats:

  • A staggering 93% of physicians feel burned out regularly, working extra on an average of 15 hours per week in addition to their work hours.
  • The high rate of physician burnout has direct and indirect costs associated with it, costing healthcare establishments an overwhelming $4.6 billion/year.

RPA in healthcare is a game-changer, offering immense benefits to the industry. Mimicking human processes, these software bots are ideal for handling rule-based, repetitive, and voluminous tasks, like patient data entry and verification, appointment scheduling, follow-ups, claims processing, report generation, etc., -letting healthcare providers focus more on providing optimal care instead of spending valuable hours on administrative tasks.

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Reimagining Healthcare: The Revolutionary Impact of RPA

Automation is creatively disrupting the healthcare industry. It is making the processes simpler, faster, and more accurate while eliminating organizational inefficiencies and reducing operational costs. Listed below are some of the strategic benefits of RPA in healthcare:

  • Personalization of Patient Care Delivery

    Patients seek prompt responses, personalized services, and a hassle-free onboarding experience. A task that typically takes a human rep more than 10-15 minutes to complete can be done in 2-3 minutes by a bot. Thus, healthcare organizations looking to streamline their non-core but vital business processes and enhance their service delivery can offload repetitive tasks to RPA bots and reduce staff involvement in mundane activities. Other than providing high-quality services to patients, they can also provide prompt responses as and when needed.

  • Strict Adherence to Regulatory Compliance

    Healthcare is one of the highly regulated industries and every organization must adhere to compliance including HIPAA. Bots can be employed to track and audit patient-sensitive data, optimizing the processes. Working on predefined rules, these bots ensure that each operation has all the relevant boxes checked. Healthcare process automation can also be used to comply with time-related regulations, for instance, if a lab test is completed within 24 hours of the clinic visit.

  • Augmented Healthcare Monitoring

    Doctors often need real-time insights to prescribe correct medicines and begin with the treatment immediately, especially in sensitive situations like heart attack or organ failure. RPA can be integrated across multiple systems to ensure a seamless flow of information and perform real-time analysis. This ease of data access facilitates better diagnosis and helps curate better pre- and post-discharge treatment. Whenever there’s any discrepancy or emergency, these software bots send alerts to patients or healthcare staff.

  • Physician Burnout Reduction and Prevention

    The healthcare sector is often bogged down due to the burden of resource-intensive and time-consuming tasks. Thanks to RPA, a majority of these rule-based tasks can be offloaded to bots, reducing staff involvement in monotonous tasks. This enhances the cognitive bandwidth of human resources and reduces burnout rate. Physicians can better focus on delivering high-quality care and services to patients rather than focusing on data handling and management tasks.

  • Cost Management

    Though implementing RPA in healthcare involves a significant cost, the ROI yielded outweighs the investments that aren’t limited to streamlining processes and optimal service delivery. It also improves data accuracy and eliminates redundancies by eliminating human intervention and facilitating resource optimization; ultimately, translating to upfront cost savings. Furthermore, with RPA solutions in place, healthcare organizations can accelerate process cycle times and enhance patient care management.

  • Enhanced Data Interoperability

    Patient information is stored across a variety of sources and in disparate formats, making data collection and processing challenging. However, integrating RPA with technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, OCR, etc., can help create an ecosystem that supports intelligent document processing. Resultingly, the data collection process becomes effortless, irrespective of the source or the format.

Putting RPA to Work: Use Cases for Healthcare Transformation

RPA for healthcare is working wonders. From simple activities like generating automated email responses to facilitating single-click installation of complex systems, healthcare automation can do it all efficiently. Take a look at some of the common applications of RPA in healthcare:

  • Appointment Scheduling

    Managing and scheduling appointments is one of the non-core but important tasks that can be assigned to bots. By scanning information such as suspected diagnosis, doctor’s availability, location, time, etc., the bots can schedule appointments and send timely reminders to patients. It can also remove the slot if the patient cancels the appointment and notify the doctor.

  • Bill Settlement

    One of the most cumbersome and tiring processes in the healthcare industry is bill settlement and claims processing. RPA can streamline the entire settlement process by combining different charges such as doctor’s fees, medication, testing, and food into a single, hassle-free payment. Consequently, healthcare providers can minimize billing errors and make the process more precise and convenient. Plus, RPA can also send personalized payment overdue reminders to patients.

  • Claims Processing

    Regarding health claims, RPA can be leveraged to check the status of health insurance claims. For example, if a human rep takes 90 seconds to review the form, bots, on the other hand, can perform the same task in 15 seconds while ensuring compliance. Indeed, healthcare process automation is the cost-effective way to prevent financial losses due to administrative errors.

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  • Post Treatment Care

    RPA can be used to deliver holistic post-discharge care. Bots can send reminders for medications, schedule follow-up appointments, follow strict meal plans, and share educational material. They can also encourage patients to keep a check on their blood sugar levels, pulse rate, blood pressure, etc. If the situation is concerning, the bots alert the patients immediately; thereby augmenting the overall patient experience.

  • Asset Tracking

    There are times when medical equipment gets misplaced, leading to delays in service delivery and work inefficiency. Integrating RPA with IoT-powered digital sensors can help hospitals manage their inventory, locate devices quickly, and monitor equipment status. Additionally, the same tracking approach can be used to locate organs for transplantation, paving the way for seamless surgical procedures.

  • Enhanced Data Interoperability

    Patient information is stored across a variety of sources and in disparate formats, making data collection and processing challenging. However, integrating RPA with technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, OCR, etc., can help create an ecosystem that supports intelligent document processing. Resultingly, the data collection process becomes effortless, irrespective of the source or the format.

Final Thoughts

RPA is not only revolutionizing the way ‘care’ is delivered to patients, but is also streamlining and accelerating redundant administrative tasks. The healthcare establishments that have integrated RPA with their existing workflows are already reaping its benefits. Surprisingly, the global healthcare automation market was worth US$ 38.6 billion in 2023. Growing at the rate of 9.3% annually, it is projected to reach US$ 94 billion by the end of 2033. Thus, the time is ripe for innovating the healthcare industry via RPA, and the providers must invest in this new-gen technology to reap the benefits.

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