As Healthcare Organizations continue to look for opportunities to improve business processes, operational efficiencies, expenses, and productivity, robotic process automation (RPA) is a new approach to drive these key business objectives.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) automates processes that are transactional and repetitive, essentially mimicking human behavior for rule-based tasks, allowing “humans” to focus on activities which require manual, exception based intervention. Both administrative and clinical functions within the life cycle of the visit, are appropriate for RPA
RPA executes routine tasks in a fraction of the time it takes a human, around-the-clock, and without the risk for human errors. This is accomplished through the use of scripted processes that have access to data sources and applications, including Electronic Health Record (EHR), data input screens, online application programming interfaces (APIs), and structured and unstructured data repositories.
Advanced technologies such as cloud computing and virtualization allows for scalable deployment of RPA software across departments and geographic locations of a healthcare organization. Unlike artificial intelligence, RPA technologies cannot modify processes without human involvement. However, RPA may serve as a stepping stone for incorporating more sophisticated cognitive technologies such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) as part of the Organization’s digital transformation strategy.
There is a no one-size fits all approach for RPA. Each Client should consider their unique needs, existing technologies, processes and ability to drive and adopt change.
Benefits of RPA in Healthcare Operations:
- Expedite and enhance communication with patients
- Drive better patient experience and satisfaction
- Eliminate human error and increase standardization
- Reduce cost by eliminating repetitive and transactional tasks
- Redeploy Staff to perform more complex task, increasing and enhancing employee engagement
RPA is not a solution for automating every process and it will not eliminate all labor costs. But when planned and implemented correctly, it’s an effective and efficient tool that drives operational excellence, generates cost savings, and streamlines processes.
Potential Processes to automate:
- Assist pre-authorizations: Gather information from websites and other disparate systems and integrate the information directly into the EHR. In some cases, even submitting for pre-authorizations.
- Enhance patient communication opportunities: After a phone call to discuss the cost of a service or other customer service questions, automatically generate an email that recaps the information discussed.
- Reduce manual data entry: When information is stored across multiple systems, aggregate the data and enter it into a central patient accounting system.
- Expedite cost estimate generation: Automate the benefits retrieval process and generate cost estimates.
- Increase efficiency by integrating third-party tools: Serve as the middleman between third-party tools that don’t “talk” to each other. This allows for data sharing and processing between the tools without human intervention.
- Automate simple claim denials: Takeover denial resolutions that follow a step-by-step process, allowing staff to focus on more complex denials.
- Improve the consumer experience: Provide instant answers to simple questions using a website chatbot automated by RPA.
As you embark on this exciting journey of automation it will be important to follow key implementation strategies to assure successful adoption of the technology. Assess, Design, Implement, and Stabilize and within each phase.
Assess: While it may be tempting to look at all processes which have significant manpower costs, it is critical to select those that are mainly repetitive and only exceptions require human touch and intervention.
Design: It will also be tempting to design complex rules and processes. Once again, focusing on simple design, particularly to start is essential for successful implementation. Complexity can be added in the future, once the basics are successfully set into motion
Implementation: As with any technologic change there are components of emotional change management, when taking away roles, as well as the “technical” component of implementation.
Stabilization: If something can go wrong, it will. Careful analysis to assure that processes are working as expected, items aren’t “lost” in the process, and the new process is truly producing the efficiency and cost savings expected is essential, before moving on to the next project.
Robotics provides us with an exciting new opportunity to improve efficiency and effectiveness while reducing cost in healthcare. Its time has come.