The Role Of RPA In Healthcare: Use Cases And Benefits

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22nd November 2022
6 Minute Read

What is RPA in healthcare?


The delivery of healthcare is built around complex and disparate tasks that need to be executed accurately and efficiently to provide a level of service the patients expect.

Robotic process automation (RPA) has been found to be an ideal tool for the healthcare setting, where it excels at knowledge sharing and enabling collaboration between all the organizations that constitute the delivery of medical care.

RPA in healthcare is a low-cost and easy-to-implement solution, which doesn’t require complex software customization, and which will work alongside the organization’s existing IT structure.

RPA is programmed to carry out the more menial and repetitive tasks that are required to ensure the healthcare organization’s workflow runs efficiently. These tasks are normally executed by manual labor, so when taken over by RPA tasks are completed faster, more accurately, and with a much-reduced likelihood of error.

Interest in RPA in healthcare grew because of its success crossing over from the insurance industry, where it has been extensively adopted as an indispensable tool in claims management and other labor-intensive areas of work.


What are the benefits of implementing RPA in healthcare?


Reduces costs


The organization of healthcare requires extensive records from patient management, health, and care management, hospital management, among others. Such processes require routine and repetitive administration to ensure they are kept up to date.

Assigned to tasks such as these RPA can easily accomplish the volume of processes involved more quickly and with greater accuracy. This enables staff to concentrate on higher-value commitments, such as customer service roles. In the longer term if the improved efficiency requires reduced staffing in any department this can be accomplished through natural wastage.


Eliminates manual mistakes


Manual data entry is repetitive and mundane, so it’s only human nature that concentration will wander, creating mistakes. RPA functions according to its programming and consequently doesn’t have the same weaknesses, enabling it to operate accurately 24/7.


Improves patient experience


Using RPA, the attendance of patient appointments can be significantly improved. The scheduling and acknowledgment of appointments along with timely reminders can all be governed effectively by RPA.

This efficiency also has a knock-on effect on patient satisfaction, where they feel their case is being handled effectively and competently. As well as appointment handling RPA has a useful role in care management where it can deal with patients’ queries and concerns diligently to provide a better customer experience.


Increases workflow efficiency


The healthcare industry has a continuing reputation for staff shortages and a higher percentage of retirement of older staff, which leads to shortages in many departments.

Extra medical documents and more demanding compliance continually add to the administrative workload, which can result in frustrated staff who feel unable to offer the human skills they entered the profession for.

Keeping abreast of the numerous health records, clinical documentation, appointment schedules, and compliance can be overwhelming. Fortunately, RPA can transform the administration of most of these tasks, enabling workflows to transfer data as they were designed to do.


Improves employee satisfaction


Overworked and undervalued employees are unlikely to experience employee satisfaction. However, with RPA taking on the responsibility for many of the routine and repetitive processes that proliferate in healthcare, staff will have more autonomy to work on more value-driven tasks, such as customer service, and innovation.

Staff is routinely included in the RPA implementation, as they can provide hands-on feedback about its efficiency. This inclusive stance helps staff to feel a useful part of the organization, which furthers employee satisfaction.


Top 5 use cases of RPA in the healthcare industry


1. Scheduling appointments for patients


At first glance, booking an appointment with a healthcare professional seems like a straightforward task. However, there are numerous variables that can complicate the procedure.

For example, some patients will need to cancel or rebook their original appointment, patients need to be assigned to the right doctor and that doctor may have to take a day off for a conference. Straightaway scheduling is fraught with complications and with one administrator overseeing the schedule errors are bound to result.


Appointment scheduling solution


RPA can be programmed to automatically manage appointment requests, as well as update and cancel them as required. The RPA workflow could operate like this:

A patient makes an online inquiry and the RPA bot offers slots, which match their needs and the doctor’s availability. Once accepted by the patient the RPA bot enters the details in the appointment database, which also removes that appointment.


The RPA bot then dispatches a confirmation email.


2. Tracking assets


Assets in healthcare include working machinery, such as defibrillators, ventilators, portable lighting, etc. The capital cost of these items is often high and with thefts from hospitals growing rapidly, tracking each item becomes ever more important. Without tracking staff time is wasted trying to locate assets, which may be needed urgently for treatment.


Tracking assets solution


Often combined with other automation solutions, tracking assets with RPA is becoming the definitive method of control. Each asset is equipped with a digital location sensor, which is recognized using cloud-based control panels. This ensures that equipment inventories are up-to-date and that assets are serviced regularly.


3. Billing


Administration associated with health care billing, payments, purchasing, and insurance claims are routine and repetitive but need to be executed without errors. These data-orientated departments are ideal for RPA to manage and even invoice chasing can be automated to improve cash flow.


Billing solution


The RPA workflow for billing could be as follows:


In conjunction with optical character recognition (OCR) RPA reads the payment details and inputs the data into the accounting system. Once the invoice is registered RPA emails the associated patient. Automated reminders are regularly sent to the patient until payment is received.


4. Automating insurance claims


RPA can be easily programmed to manage complex communications that occur in healthcare claims management. Their speed and accuracy reduces any claim backlogs, while updates to government regulations are easily entered in the system.


Claims processing solution


The RPA workflow for claims processing could be as follows:

RPA opens the claims form, copies the data, and pastes it into the online claims management system while attaching the original received document. The claimant is verified in the system by copying their name and searching the claims database. 

RPA attaches the invoice to the correct file and claims processing system. Lastly, RPA forwards the claim for approval and creates an email to notify the claimant the claim is processing.


5. Patient data analytics and diagnostics


In assessing and treating patients, healthcare professionals record a considerable quantity of patient data. This is used to develop the best treatment plan. However, this data is also a valuable resource, which can be studied for insights and statistics. The patients’ experience can be tailored according to these insights with a better diagnosis and treatment plan. With a wider scope, the same data can be used to improve the services offered by the department.


Patient data analytics solution


The fast-growing online consultation is ideal for RPA. A smart phone app equipped with RPA and AI technology can conduct online screening and offer patients support at the same time.

RPA has also been successfully implemented in hospitals, where patient data is input, disease codes are analyzed, and the results are sent to healthcare professionals saving considerable time.


Final thoughts


RPA in healthcare has already been proven to be a highly cost-effective tool for reducing mundane administrative workloads but also in maintaining the accuracy the industry demands. However, the surface has only been scratched, and the potential rewards are yet to be realized.

As patient consultations move from personal to online, applications using RPA and AI will likely transform diagnosis, treatment and follow-up.

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