Digital transformation of healthcare brings forward automation of the industry’s various processes. As a result, it makes service provision more efficient and streamlined. In the end, when done correctly, all parties benefit from the phenomenon. Yet, one of the challenging things is to choose the instrument of digitization, among which are many. One of the most promising tools in such a case is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA in healthcare can be a game changer when in the right hands.
The global RPA market is booming and is projected to reach $24 billion by 2030. In addition, Forbes indicates more than 50% of healthcare providers in the United States will invest in RPA in the next three years. Finally, many practitioners, precisely 92% of respondents in the research conducted by Deloitte, anticipate digital transformation, and RPA in particular, to provide a better patient experience. These statistics are enough to presume RPA’s importance in healthcare.
At this point, let us explore the technology in greater detail and analyze five critical applications of RPA in healthcare to assess the power of the phenomenon.
What Is RPA?
In a nutshell, RPA is a distinct software technology that allows companies to build and deploy software-based robots quickly. These machines emulate human behaviors and actions while interacting with software and other digital systems. For example, robots built in the scope of RPA can see and comprehend what is on a smartphone or desktop screen.
Besides, they can complete different keystrokes and type in the text. More importantly, software robots can extract data and navigate digital systems. Software robots complete interaction with digital systems faster and more efficiently than people.
In addition, with special healthcare cloud software available, RPA gains traction in data management. You need no on-premise systems, which means fewer maintenance expenses and lower downtime. As a result, software robots can process data through the cloud and grant practitioners insights that improve patient care. RPA in healthcare is the technology changing how healthcare professionals do their work.
What is more, RPA robots can do repetitive tasks, thus taking a great deal of time off the hands of the practitioner. Among the critical tasks software robots perform are the following:
- Logging into systems and applications
- Moving files around
- Competing analysis
- Creating reports
- Engaging in cognitive processing
- Running chats
- Interpreting text
- Collecting and compiling unstructured data
- Applying advanced learning techniques to present complex insights
Software robots’ possibilities range from low-value mundane tasks to complex analyzing and processing. In such a case, automation brought by RPA frees time for humans. When the healthcare automation process is presented correctly, one can expect the technology to have a lot to give to the industry.
What Does Healthcare RPA Development Bring to the Table?
Healthcare development automation is something RPA is proficient in. With the RPA in the healthcare market booming, companies and healthcare organizations continuously find new ways to implement the technology and improve people’s lives (see Fig. 1).
It is crucial to understand that the healthcare industry is full of robust and strict standards, rules, and principles that put forward hundreds of requirements. It is a baseline for quality care provision. Besides, these are needed to ensure patient safety and data protection if speaking on digital transformation. That poses a significant challenge for healthcare providers trying to balance providing care and earning profits.
With all the regulations and compliance-related matters in mind, healthcare professionals constantly engage in myriad administrative tasks. Often, it means working with patient data or shuffling it across a system like Electronic Health Records (EHRs). That takes time and a toll on healthcare professionals who could have used the valuable time for things that can improve patient health. It is the moment when RPA in healthcare comes to the scene.
Implementing RPA brings data automation to healthcare. That saves a lot of time, allowing healthcare professionals to focus on personalized care while reducing the cost of the process. Besides, the healthcare automation process is great for compliance. Software robots ensure almost no mistakes and errors when an organization tries to meet all the regulation criteria. At this point, RPA in healthcare opens many doors, and tapping into technology is a direct way toward many benefits.
Scope of Healthcare RPA Development
RPA often comes along with technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Intelligent Automation (IA). For instance, AI in healthcare products makes ML and IA possible. These instruments grant an unprecedented ability to work with data efficiently when coupled. That is why the innovative application of AI in healthcare is a hot topic. Respectively, RPA taps into AI, ML, and IA, bringing forward the scope of these four aspects:
For decades the interaction between a person and a healthcare provider relied on in-person and follow-up visits to deal with particular health issues. Yet, with the introduction of AI-powered tools like RPA, the system revolutionized. RPA in healthcare makes the traditional generalized approach toward care provision obsolete. In turn, healthcare professionals can adopt a personalized touch to the care provision, making healthcare efficient and effective.
For instance, taking into consideration the recent COVID-19 vaccination efforts all over the world. Automation helped make vaccination schedules effective while sending people reminders and notifications on their next vaccination dates. In addition, with cloud capabilities, all healthcare data can be shared among different healthcare providers without errors.
Clinical Decision-Making and Support
To understand the scope of RPA in healthcare, it is crucial to know how data is used in the industry. That is particularly important in clinical decision-making and support. When diagnosing, a practitioner must analyze various PHIs, reports, history, and other variables. Naturally, it takes much time and effort to do it all for a single patient, let alone for dozens of healthcare professionals to treat simultaneously.
AI applications can aid with that, allowing practitioners to use the insights developed by software robots. In short, with RPA and AI, clinical decision-making and support become automated. There is no human factor involved, which means fewer errors. Healthcare providers instantly get a complete picture of a patient’s health and can quickly devise personalized treatment plans.
This approach is still rooted in the manual work of filling out forms and reports. It takes a great deal of time and increases the chance of error. However, software robots equipped with Natural Language Processing (NLP) effectively transcribe and edit all the reports directed to other medical professionals and healthcare providers. Moreover, when ML is added to the equation, there is no need to write any reports. A machine can do it effectively instead of humans.
Staff Utilization Optimization
This part of the RPA’s scope emphasizes dealing with the grueling staff shortage issue. The report indicates by 2025, in the United States, there will be a shortage of more than 600,000 medical professionals. Such an issue can be minimized with RPA in healthcare. Organizations need to use RPA to optimize the workforce management process. Healthcare automation solutions use predictive analytics to understand how the workforce will shift. It helps achieve correct staff utilization and avoid pressure on a healthcare organization due to staff shortage.
Healthcare RPA Development Benefits
According to Gartner, one-fifth of all patient interactions will soon involve some degree of RPA, AI, ML, and IA. That shows companies and organizations operating in the healthcare industry know that the technologies focusing on healthcare development automation is the future. Besides, they know tools like RPA have distinct and tangible benefits to offer.
From the scope above, it becomes clear user experience plays a vital role in healthcare provision. Any industry relying on services can envision this factor as critical. Better user experience means a lower user turnover rate and more profits. The formula is simple. With all the myriad factors involved, offering a great user experience in healthcare is challenging.
However, RPA can help healthcare professionals provide a personalized user experience. Software robots can complete various administrative tasks in a fraction of the time compared to humans. What took 10 minutes can be done in 10 seconds. Also, with predictive analytics on board, RPA helps analyze patient needs and anticipate what a user will look for in the nearest future. As a result, healthcare providers can satisfy patients who will return to get more services.
Better Appointment Turnout
Appointment scheduling can be a major headache for both patients and healthcare organizations. Essentially, a dedicated employee should manage all the scheduling and ensure different visits do not overlap. Naturally, it comes with human errors and patients getting the wrong scheduling. In such a case, RPA bots can automate patient scheduling and take away the need to allocate human resources to do the task.
Besides, with available data storage options and effective cloud data management, there is no need to have robust on-premise systems that hold all the patient information and make the scheduling process slower. As a result, with RPA in healthcare, a patient gets a seamless scheduling experience while a hospital brings down the costs.
No Human Errors
This benefit is a big one. While there was mention of human error elimination before, the notion needs a closer look because of its importance. Unfortunately, medical errors resulting from human errors lead to about 161,000 deaths annually (see Fig. 2).
Thus, RPA in healthcare can save lives. Coupled with Big Data capabilities, it grants practitioners error-free insights, significantly reducing prescription errors and misdiagnoses.
Enhanced Data Protection
With digital transformation being a prerogative for healthcare providers, data protection is one of the critical aspects everyone tries to solve. Along with data storage options and Big Data services, one common challenge is ensuring patient data is protected against a breach.
Most data breaches occur because humans mishandle patient data. People do not follow the rules and can leave sensitive information open for unauthorized access. It can be both intentional and unintentional. However, the result will be the same – patient data will be lost. To deal with that, you need to eliminate the human factor. Software robots can handle all the data, generate reports, and conduct analysis. While doing so, the machines ensure the best data security measures and protect information from unauthorized access.
Top of the Line Security
When done with data protection, it is time to consider the entire digital framework within a healthcare organization. While AI in healthcare is perfect for data analysis, RPA is excellent for security. Why is it important? HIPAA reports a 30% increase in data breaches within healthcare due to security-related weaknesses across healthcare providers (see Fig. 3).
How can RPA in healthcare help? Again, the technology takes all data handling into its “hands.” It ensures all the inputs are done according to HIPAA regulations, and all the reports follow the highest compliance standards. Also, RPA comes with firewalls and protective measures, which make it virtually impossible to hack them and use them as the access door into the system.
Top 5 RPA Applications in Healthcare
The RPA applications presented further show the most promising opportunities. These can take healthcare to the next level and make it more efficient and personalized.
1. Effective Appointment Scheduling Procedures
Appointment scheduling is something that should be stressed again and again. Making appointments online is one of the most well-recognized trends (see Fig. 4).
The healthcare industry comes right after the travel industry, with 52% of patients and employees using online appointment scheduling regularly. Besides, according to Verified Market Research, the global appointment scheduling software market is expected to reach $588 million by 2027, a significant increase from its current value of $223 million. Considering the evidence, appointment scheduling is the realm healthcare professionals seek to improve.
While appointment scheduling went online, processing these bookings is still a manual task. Now, think about tens or even hundreds of doctor appointments booked. Some of them will be canceled, while others might be rescheduled. Often, there is only one administrator to process the bookings. As a solution, RPA in healthcare brings forward RPA bots that automatically manage all the bookings. They can do the following:
- Present appointment slots per patient’s needs and doctor’s availability
- Schedule an appointment once it is booked and remove the previously opened slot
- Notify the patient via email or social media messenger confirming the details of the appointment
That removes all the challenges of appointment scheduling and streamlines the process.
2. Top-Notch Billing Processes
Next comes billing — another major part of the healthcare automation process. The medical billing outsourcing market is taking massive strides, with companies choosing how to handle it (see Fig. 5).
While the medical market is booming, there comes the issue of error minimization. According to GlobeNewswire, an estimated 80% of medical bills contain errors. So naturally, errors lead to massive financial losses. More specifically, in the United States alone, doctors lose around $125 billion due to errors in medical billing.
Moreover, medical billing, like insurance claims and payments, includes repetitive workflows. These are time-consuming and laborious. That is precisely why medical errors occur. People who process medical billing are under immense pressure as they must handle a massive workload. Luckily, RPA in healthcare can come to help. The technology ensures compliance by eliminating human factors and guarantees error-free medical billing.
An RPA bot can conduct many tasks that reduce the error rate. More specifically, these are the medical billing services RPA automates:
- An RPA-based bot can recognize and analyze all the payment details by using Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
- After recognizing the information, the bot can log it into the accounting system by inputting the data into all the relevant fields.
- Next, the system creates an invoice with all relevant fields filled. The bot registers it and then emails all the information to the patient.
- If something happens to a payment, for instance, a delay, the bot sends a customized reminder to the patient affected by the delay.
In the nearest future, one can expect all the billing tasks to be handled by the healthcare automation process brought by RPA.
3. Clear Discharge Instructions
It is now time to address the aspect of patient discharge. Most of the existing healthcare organizations operate via EHRs. Yet, even though the system still offers its benefits, the EHR market is stalling and will continue to stagnate in the years to come (see Fig. 6).
With this in mind, let us see how RPA revolutionizes the patient discharge process. In short, a patient must follow a post-treatment plan when discharged from a hospital. Yet, often, patients forget the details of such plans and miss the procedures they are scheduled for later. As a solution, RPA in healthcare is there to help patients pass the discharge process as smoothly as possible. It happens in these steps:
- The RPA bot runs the system, contacts the patient and sends all the discharge and post-treatment guidelines.
- Following the post-treatment recovery plan, an RPA bot notifies a patient with remainders and offers options to schedule and reschedule appointments if needed.
In some cases, RPA bots can notify patients daily or hourly if medication pick-ups are needed. In turn, the same bots notify healthcare providers of any treatment plan inconsistencies on the part of a patient. Respectively, RPA does a great job in handling the discharge process and establishing closer patient-practitioner connections.
4. Error-Free Audits
Healthcare is unimaginable without audits. Any healthcare app development needs to undergo a series of processes that verify its full compliance with the strictest standards. Again and again, it is needed to protect sensitive user data. However, another side of the problem is the financial one. Noncompliance is a costly endeavor (see Fig. 7).
According to IBM security, data breaches happening in the healthcare industry are the costliest. On average, the incident can cost up to $4 million. In such a case, auditing is the solution to the issue. If a company or a healthcare provider passes all the audits, there is a high chance that the data breach will not happen. Audits are done periodically and can be linked to many processes, from patient-based service efficiency to safety check processing. It is a complicated process that can take much time and effort.
However, with RPA in healthcare, auditing can become seamless. That is how it happens when the healthcare automation process is involved:
- An RPA bot records relevant audit data and starts generating the report.
- Then, the machine sends out surveys which later process the results.
- As the next step, an RPA bot automates all audit-related collection activities.
- Later, the software integrates all the data into a single report.
- The audit itself is presented in spreadsheet form.
This auditing process comes with risk assessment opportunities. RPA ensures everything is documented correctly and reports are shared among respective parties. With auditing done by RPA, you can evaluate your entire system and see where potential breaches might occur. As a result, you take action in advance and ensure you will not lose millions of dollars in data breach-related litigation.
5. Next-Level Compliance
Along with having the costliest data breaches, the healthcare industry is among the most regulated ones (see Fig. 8).
For healthcare, internal and external compliance requirements are involved. While internal compliance is easy to handle, external compliance can pose a major challenge and catch employees off-guard. As a solution, RPA in healthcare can help automate, track, and document all the processes necessary for meeting the strictest and most robust compliance requirements.
The machine works out the process in the following manner:
- First, it eliminates the inefficiencies linked to collecting, compiling and processing data needed for compliance matters.
- Second, an RPA bot conducts a sophisticated pre-compliance check-up to identify non-compliance processes for internal audits.
- Third, the software robot creates trails you can use to extract data at any given time.
Keeping this in mind, RPA in healthcare helps handle audits and ensure your company or organization has all its processes that comply with internal and external regulations.
The Bottom Line
RPA in healthcare is an inevitable part of the industry’s digital transformation. It brings major benefits, has a distinct scope, and works in correlation with giants like AI, ML, and IA. The top 5 use cases mentioned above illustrate how software robots help revolutionize appointment scheduling, medical billing, auditing, and compliance checks.
Finally, RPA brings the next level of user experience to the table. It is a prime time to tap into the technology and ensure employees focus on improving patient care instead of dealing with time-consuming, repetitive, and laborious tasks.