As the number of patients and healthcare costs are only growing, providing the best patient care using as few resources as possible is crucial. The deployment of new technologies, such as robotic process automation, in healthcare organizations can play a vital role in improving operational processes while reducing their costs.
In this article, we will discuss the application of robotic process automation (RPA) in the healthcare industry, what makes it an optimal business management tool for healthcare providers, and describe the five most common use cases of RPA in healthcare.
What can RPA bring to healthcare?
The healthcare industry is full of standards, protocols, rules, and compliance requirements. These standards are considered the baseline for quality care, even if they aren’t directly related to the treatment itself but business processes or data management. But that’s just a part of a challenge.
A natural sequence of strict regulations is that employees are engaged in tedious tasks, such as inputting patient data or moving it across several systems. Being error-prone, these mindless activities also often lead to boredom, and as a result — burnout and increased turnover.
RPA is a technology that leverages software robots, or just bots, to execute high-volume repetitive tasks in a digital environment. Given the algorithmic nature of RPA bots, they are a perfect fit for taking care of tedious scenario-based tasks that is healthcare system is choke-full of.
The benefits of RPA in healthcare
There are three main advantages that robotic process automation brings to the table for healthcare organizations:
Reduction of time-consuming manual administrative tasks
The governance of new appointment requests, patients’ pre-arrival and arrival, or billing process may take a lot of time while also acting as low-margin and value activities. Plus, the massive amounts of mundane patient data input and output tasks on a doctor or nurse level lead to fewer appointments available.
By implementing healthcare automation with RPA, you put tedious, error-prone workflows on autopilot, mimicking the tasks employees used to do manually — only faster and more accurately. By delegating such tasks to RPA bots, employees can spend more time on patient care, not paperwork.
RPA can also be used to improve compliance in hospitals and other healthcare organizations. As software robots strictly follow predefined rules and never forget anything, it’s possible to ensure that each process has all the necessary boxes checked.
For example, you can easily ensure the workflow’s compliance regarding temporal rules, such as whether a lab test is performed within 24 hours after a visit to the clinic.
Improved data security
RPA also allows you to securely process sensitive data. For example, a common compliance violation is unauthorized employees accessing private patients’ health records, such as blood test results. It doesn't have to be intentional. Often, the reason is the trivial need to manually process a large amount of data, which brought in additional employees. By assigning this type of task to bots, you can process health records without the need for employees to access it.
5 use cases of RPA in healthcare
Let’s take a more in-depth look at which tasks are better handled by software robots in healthcare.
Use case #1: Appointments scheduling
Booking an appointment with a doctor in many organizations has become an online process. However, processing these bookings often remains a manual task. Now imagine tens of appointments booked for the next couple of weeks, some of them are already canceled or updated, and there’s only one administrator to handle all incoming requests.
Also, appointment scheduling should be accurate in terms of a match between an available doctor and a patient. If a doctor had to take a couple of days off for some reason, there’s an additional challenge for administrative staff with rescheduling the appointments planned on these days.
Solution: With the help of RPA bots, you can automatically manage patient appointment requests: schedule, update, or cancel them if needed. The automated workflow can be like this:
- An RPA bot offers appointment slots to a patient according to their needs and the availability of a doctor.
- Once the patient has booked an appointment, the bot schedules it in the database and removes that appointment slot.
- The bot also notifies the patient via email, confirming the appointment details.
Use case #2: Billing
Medical billing, payments, and insurance claims processing are highly-repetitive workflows which makes them perfect candidates for automation. Not only are they time-consuming if done manually, but also error-prone. Once errors find their way into the system, they can disrupt the flow of vital activities.
Solution: You can use a purpose-built bot that automatically handles the invoicing processes in line with the services offered to the customers. The automated workflow can be like this:
- An RPA bot recognizes payment details using optical character recognition (OCR).
- Then it logs into the accounting system and inputs data into the relevant system’s fields.
- Once the invoice is created and registered in the system, the bot emails it to a patient.
- If there’s a delay in payment, the bot can also send a customized reminder to the patient and create a report on the reminders sent with the current payment status for a finance manager.
Use case #3: Discharge instructions
Whenever patients are discharged from the hospital post-treatment, they need to follow a post medication and healthcare regimen. However, some patients can forget the details or miss the date when they need to do a specific procedure.
Solution: The use of RPA bots can provide added value to discharge instructions and the overall patient experience. For example:
- The bot emails a patient the discharge and post medication guidelines.
- According to the recovery plan, the bot sends timely notifications to inform the patient of the schedule, appointments, and required tests.
Use case #4: Audits
An audit is an inevitable routine in any healthcare organization. It is done periodically and may range from patients’ service efficiency to process safety checks.
Solution: RPA bots can be helpful in data recording and report generation. For example, they can do the following:
- Send surveys and process their results.
- Automate audit evidence collection activities.
- Integrate data from multiple files and systems into a single report.
- Perform basic audit checks in spreadsheets.
Use case #5: Compliance checks
Besides the internal compliance requirements, healthcare providers face the requirements to handle external audits. Sometimes it may catch employees unaware.
Solution: RPA ensures that all process steps are tracked, re-traceable, strictly documented, and well-organized in structured logs.
- Eliminate or reduce the time-consuming collecting, compiling, and cleansing large amounts of information.
- Conduct pre-compliance check internal audits to identify non-compliant processes.
- Extract data from audit trails at any time.
To sum up
Starting digital transformation by automating routine tasks can help medical institutions raise productivity tenfold. Consider optimizing your workflow by adding programmed robots as a “digital workforce,” so it’ll be robots who fill in the forms, manage reports, and transfer the data between the various systems and interfaces.
The ElectroNeek RPA platform is one of the most affordable yet feature-rich on the automation market. With its help, you’ll quickly start your healthcare automation journey and create any number of software robots that will get all your mundane tasks covered. You can try ElectroNeek by signing up for a free demo.