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Hackernoon logoHow The Healthcare Industry Can Best Utilise Robotic Process Automation (RPA) by@Luke Fitzpatrick

How The Healthcare Industry Can Best Utilise Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

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@Luke FitzpatrickLuke Fitzpatrick

Luke covers blockchain trends on Forbes.

Healthcare has more than its fair share of monotonous, time-consuming tasks that prevent employees from focusing on more productive activities.

RPA can automate many of these tasks, increasing operational efficiency, reducing costs and limiting the possibility of errors.

Here we look at the areas in the healthcare industry where the deployment of RPA could be most effective, along with the overall benefits that such changes could bring. 

What is RPA?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the deployment of software that automates repetitive, high volume, rule-based tasks traditionally performed by humans. Such tasks can include managing workflows, filling in forms and producing reports.

RPA can be developed in-house or delivered as a service (RPAaaS) through Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). 

How to overcome internal resistance to process automation and outsourcing?

According to Ken Hickey, the Head of Business Process Solutions at Converga, "Resistance to traditional outsourcing is natural. People are protective of their IP, their customer data, and most importantly their people.” 

Hickey, adds “Every business optimisation strategy proposed by your process automation partner should be focused on freeing up people to perform more core, meaningful and high value business tasks. The right partner will assist with the change management process and internal change communication to ensure collaboration rather than conflict with the business."

Areas where RPA can make a difference

The implementation of RPA programs can dramatically improve efficiency in a number of processes used in hospitals and medical practices. 

Data extraction

Locating individual medical records amongst millions of others can be a laborious and time-consuming task, even when using a digital database.

RPA software can speed up the search time, improve search accuracy and even route the documents to the appropriate users or perform some other function with them such as printing. The only human involvement required is the initial input of search criteria.  

Hospital check-ins

Pressure can be taken off busy hospital reception desks by installing patient self-service kiosks in hospital foyers and emergency rooms.

Patients would simply type in their details on a screen and an RPA program would prioritize them according to the seriousness of their illness or injury and forward their details to reception for further processing.

This could be particularly useful in a busy ER environment, where triage has such an important role to play. 

Hospital discharging

When patients are discharged from hospital, they often don’t follow post-medication and healthcare instructions to the letter and hospitals have traditionally had no way of following upon them.

An RPA program could be easily implemented that would automatically send timely notifications to inform patients of schedules, upcoming appointments, and tests. It could also alert healthcare providers if a patient needed further assistance with their condition. 

Patient billing

Hospitals have to manually calculate and process the bills for treatment of each patient, which can be time-consuming and prone to errors.

RPA software can be implemented that would accurately calculate a patient’s final bill, taking into account a range of factors such as the costs of tests, medicines, accommodation, food and various specialist fees.

It can even notify patients of the amount owing and receive payment, something which would dramatically speed up the accounts payable process. 

Claims management

The management of health insurance claims can also be time-consuming and error-prone, involving data input, processing, evaluation, and appeals.

RPA software could be used to significantly speed this process up by automatically populating claim form fields, Fast and error-free document submission would help create an efficient and streamlined claims management process. 

Audit procedures

Hospitals are subject to regular compliance audits to monitor the efficiency of patient services and the quality of safety procedures.

This can be a time-consuming process involving approvals from various people. While RPA software can’t fully automate the audit process, which must be done by humans, it can streamline it by assisting with data recording and the generation of reports during audits.

Hospital staff can then use these reports to identify areas where non-compliance is occurring and take appropriate measures to rectify the problem. 

Appointment scheduling

While booking an appointment with a doctor can now be done online, the appointment is still often processed manually by the reception, including juggling doctors’ availability times and collecting information such as Medicare or insurance details.

This process could easily be automated with RPA software, from initial data collection to scheduling the appointment with the relevant doctor, removing the appointment slot from the database or offering alternative times if the doctor is unavailable. 

Healthcare monitoring

RPA software can record and monitor huge volumes of medical data. It can generate reports on this data from which insights can be extracted and which allow for tracking of patients’ health conditions and treatment.

This ability to track patient health over the long-term would make it possible for medical professionals to customize treatment plans for individual patients. 

Summing up 

With the ability to improve processes in so many areas, RPA implementation could revolutionize the healthcare industry, providing benefits well beyond productivity gains.

These could include more personalized patient care. improved healthcare outcomes increased employee satisfaction and better quality services.

By freeing employees from repetitive tasks, RPA allows them to focus their attention on core activities, which in the case of the healthcare industry, is providing a better all-round level of care for their patients. And surely, that’s what it’s all about. 

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