We have all heard the proverb that claims an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but have you heard about the one that goes: “RPA today keeps the headaches at bay?”
Over the coming years, the expected growth and impact of the aging population on healthcare systems is challenging healthcare providers to radically transform the delivery of patient care, improve quality safety, and efficiency – all while combatting the associated costs, complexity, and regulatory scrutiny. To keep pace, many providers must revisit and fundamentally reassess many of the strategies, technologies, and operational approaches they currently use.
With three out of four hospital and health systems CEOs indicating overall cost reduction and efficiency as one of their top two financial priorities, one technology that is standing out for its capability to help healthcare providers achieve these transformation goals (and keep the headaches at bay) is robotic process automation (RPA).
In fact, the healthcare industry is ripe with opportunity for the increasing use of RPA. Foremost RPA is used to automate time-consuming, repetitive, rules-based processes with maximum efficiency and accuracy. These type of processes epitomize the healthcare environment that involves layers of administrative, managerial and customer service functions, marked by information intensive manual tasks. Classic examples include: claims processing and coding changes, provider data management, patient case management, underwriter support, billing, revenue management and more. Many of these tasks can be easily, effectively, and efficiently undertaken with RPA. Once deployed, software robots work 24/7 with amazing accuracy, thus not only improving efficiencies and cutting costs, but also reducing negligence and ensuring patient safety.
It is also important to take note that RPA also has tremendous potential to expand within healthcare beyond just back-office functions. Today’s intelligent RPA solutions recognize that offloading routine tasks to robots is not the end-all and that RPA can further be used to improve all steps in the business process including those that continue to be executed by people. A great example of this is the use of attended RPA to aid in electronic health records (EHR) implementation.
The U.S. government has spent $28 billion in incentives to make the switch from paper to EHR under the meaningful use program established by the 2009 stimulus bill. However, while many healthcare organizations have EHR software in place, CompTIA’s Healthcare IT Insights and Opportunities study revealed that only about 60 percent are satisfied with the system they have, 40 percent characterized their EHR implementation as “worse than expected,” and 56 percent “acknowledged being less than optimally prepared for the transition to EHR.”
These forlorn statistics pave the way for low user adoption and can lead to withdrawal of funding for organization’s that are unable to prove meaningful use in the long run. Common pitfalls include loss of productivity during the training period coupled with high training costs, entering the wrong data into the electronic record, and fear that the system will affect the quality of care or jeopardize the doctor/patient relationship.
It’s not always practical, efficient, or cost-effective to require physicians and other healthcare professionals to learn a new system through traditional learning methods – it may also affect quality of care. Healthcare professionals can’t always get away from their duties, patients, or businesses to participate in classroom time, or to complete lengthy e-learning sessions.
With attended RPA they can learn on the job with directed guidance or automate tasks directly from their desktops. Furthermore, these solutions can prevent disastrous or costly errors by alerting users within the application and directing them through the correct steps to follow. This dramatically reduces training time and costs and helps organizations avoid setbacks, errors, employee turnover and other common frustrations.
RPA is an essential tool for healthcare providers that allows them to offload manual processes and support its human workforce. It enables them to provide immediate productivity gains, achieve near zero error rates, reduce operational costs and greatly increase the quality of patient care.