#RPA in Healthcare: The Path Ahead for Health IT Leaders By Sreejith Madhavan



Historically, healthcare industry has shown a reluctance to invest in technologies that did not come under the purview of diagnostics and treatment, or demanded by insurance payors (such as electronic claims submission). Anything that required cognitive (human) intervention or intuition was kept aside from the technological takeover. The unprecedented growth of life expectancy, the discovery of new drugs and treatments, and the ability of modern medicine to combat chronic ailments and epidemics have spurred the need for technological inclusion in multiple areas of healthcare.

As patients become more digital savvy, caregivers are increasingly implementing technology solutions that enable both parties to perform several activities online such as accessing personal medical information to online scheduling of appointments. Today, healthcare industry is looking at those technologies or combinations of technologies that can optimize their front, middle and back-office operations so that care givers get adequate time to spend on priority tasks.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one of the key technologies that has gone mainstream in many industries including healthcare. Why health IT leaders should continue to turn their pivot towards RPA? We’re exploring the reasons through this post.

RPA in Healthcare: Common Applications and Benefits

Robotic Process Automation or RPA automates processes that are repetitive and transactional, primarily by imitating human behavior for rule-based tasks.  RPA enables caregivers to focus on high-value activities by enhancing overall administration of healthcare processesIt executes routine tasks at a fraction of time than that’s taken by a human, eliminating the risk of human errors. The scope of RPA in the administrative and clinical functions of healthcare is very vast. 

Technologies such as cloud computing and data virtualization have enabled scalable deployment of RPA software across various units and geographic locations of a healthcare organization. So far, healthcare administrators have leveraged RPA in several areas of their back, middle and front-office operations; few of which are mentioned in the table below:  


Healthcare

Areas of RPA implementation
Benefits to healthcare providers
Back Office


  • Human resource management
  • Finance and supply chain management
  • Streamline onboarding process to improve efficiency
  • Clinicians can impart care without interruption caused by administrative functions
  • Human resource management
  • Ensure new clinical staff gains access to systems and facilities from day 1
Middle Office


  • Revenue cycle management
  • Claim submission and reconciliation
  • Patient scheduling
  • Accelerate revenue cycle by automating coverage eligibility verification process, claims posting, and claim resubmission
  • Insurance data management
Front Office

(relatively untapped by RPA)


  • Care delivery setting
  • Health data utilization and report generation
  • Integration of disparate care management systems to assimilate date efficiently
  • Ensure clinicians spend more time for patient care by minimizing their administrative work
  • Enhance case management

Most of the present day healthcare organizations are using RPA for automating rules-driven and repetitive back office work. The potential RPA can offer healthcare in unison with advanced technologies such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) is tremendous. It’s no surprise if we consider Robotic Process Automation a stepping stone to integrating these sophisticated cognitive technologies into healthcare.

What needs to be automated in healthcare?

Here’re a few potential use cases: 

1 Connecting and automating disparate health monitoring devices: The case of neonatal ICU:

A 2017 Business Insider post talks about the need to automate oxygen supply to patients hospitalized with pulmonary hypertension. Currently, the system only alerts the staff (nurse) through a monitor beep when the blood oxygen level of the patient drops and the staff has to attend the case. If the nurse is attending other patients and misses out the alert, the chance for a mishap is more. The article from Thomas Hooven, a Neonatologist in the U.S. suggests how automation of oxygen inflow at the moment of crisis could save patients with chronic pulmonary hypertension.

2 Compliance monitoring and analysis:

Imagine a hospital that processes thousands of claims daily and attends the need of a large number of insurance beneficiaries. RPA can be used to gather and consolidate data from multiple disparate sources or systems that improves the efficiency of regulatory, non-financial, and risk reporting. Automation of compliance monitoring analytics eliminates time-consuming activities involved in the collection, compilation, cleansing and summarization of large amounts of information. Security of medical data and records is a major concern for any healthcare organization. Robotic Process Automation helps protect patient privacy and achieve compliance with HIPAA and other mandatory health regulations by generating custom reports and detailed audit logs.

3 IoT analytics to empower process automation

The goal of any IoT deployment should not be limited to collecting data from multiple sources (devices). It must ensure that the data is actionable in real-time, to support relevant processes. Process automation is recognized as the common endeavor to improve operational efficiency by lowering costs, increasing profits and improving customer satisfaction. Integrating IoT into process automation could deliver greater value across product lines. For instance, consider the claims settlement process in healthcare that is deeply influenced by the data being collected from several devices. During the claims settlement process, if the system could take into account the details of the data aggregated by IoT devices such as lowering a premium based on usage behavior, or a difference in user-provided information, that could lead to process optimization and faster decision-making. IoT analytics in healthcare can avoid the cost of admissions by automating prescriptions, reduce medical error in treatment and improve quality of patient services.

Leveraging RPA with exponential technologies

RPA is just one of the growing technologies that can empower healthcare organizations. Once RPA is integrated successfully into their core business strategies, hospitals should consider incorporating the advanced spectrum of cognitive technologies such as AI and machine learning. Unlike RPA, artificial intelligence has the ability to identify patterns in data. Similarly, machine learning adds more meaning and power to process automation by enabling healthcare organizations to identify payment variance and remediate complex payment methodologies.

The future healthcare environment could look very different from what we see today. Technologies like Robotic Process Automation will have a greater say on employee productivity. Automating routine tasks such as collecting blood samples could help the job of a nurse, reduce task time and eliminate manual errors, while improving the patient experience. As organizations progress from depending on manual tasks to applying RPA and cognitive computing, the workforce also shifts from being “doers” to “reviewers.” Health IT leaders and providers, hence should focus on developing proactive, winning strategies to attain long-term financial sustainability and improved patient experience.

Author
Sreejith Madhavan
Sreejith Madhavan is the Chief Operating Officer of Zerone Consulting Pvt. Ltd., a custom software development company with an exceptional track record of successfully completing over 500 challenging projects for 140 plus satisfied customers globally. Sreejith’s experience includes a demonstrated history of working in the outsourcing/offshoring industry, managing and mentoring multiple teams in the web and mobile development arena
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#mHealth: A New Growth Engine in MedTech Industry by Ananya Bhandari


Source: Grand View Research
Mobile health highlights the risks and opportunities of pharmaceutical and Medtech industries. Surge in number of purely digital players transformed the mHealth app market

According to the estimates of Grand View Research, the global mHealth market size was valued at USD 4.75 billion in 2014 and is expected to witness substantial gains throughout the forecast period. Improvement in 3G & 4G networks and favorable government initiatives in healthcare IT owing to increase in demand for such services. According to WHO Global Observatory for eHealth, about 58% of the health authorities around the globe is involved in the development and adoption of mHealth in health sector. High penetration of smartphones coupled with technological advancement in smartphone applications is also anticipated to further boost up the demand for mHealth services.

Furthermore, the growing adoption of mobile applications paved the way for driving up the demand for various mHealth apps that can be used for fitness tracking, diagnostic & monitoring, consultation, medical information & education services, chronic care management, and ageing solutions. Growing demand for mHealth technology to provide remote patient monitoring services and to run surveillance programs in developing countries, which is further anticipated to propel the market growth. However, lack of reimbursement policies, poor network coverage especially in emerging economies, and data security issues can hamper the growth of mHealth market.


U.S. mHealth Market Revenue by Services, 2014 - 2025 (USD Million)
Source: Grand View Research
mHealth: Market Segmentation

Based on the services, the market is segmented as monitoring services, diagnosis services, healthcare system strengthening, and other services. Monitoring services accounted for major share of over 65% in 2016 pertaining to the factors such as increasing ageing population and rising incidence of chronic diseases such as obesity & diabetes, congestive heart failure, cancer. mHealth helps in monitoring of various health parameters such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart rate, and nutrient intake.

There is continuous advancements in diagnostic device technology that integrates digital technology in medical devices. It enables patients to send clinical data to the healthcare providers through their smartphones. Healthcare system strengthening services provide healthcare surveillance and administration, emergency response and support to healthcare providers. Other services consist of prevention and wellness of patients through mHealth applications. It focused on elderly care, drug abuse prevention, child and women care, smoking de-addiction and healthy living.

Mobile operators held the largest market share of about 49% in 2016. MNO’s provide 3G and 4G broadband network coverage. mHealth allows healthcare professionals to handle appointments and to monitor remote patients. Device vendors are involved in integrating digital technology in medical devices that allows transmission of clinical data such as blood pressure, heart rate, blood-glucose levels and others. Leading vendors such as Biotrick, Medtronic, ResMed and Philips Respironics are successfully using this technology.

Some of the key factors attributing to the market growth include rising number of health and wellness apps with growing adoption of smartphones by population. Asia pacific region is expected to be the fastest growing segment with a CAGR of 27.2% over the forecast period. 
Source: Grand View Research

The growth in the region is driven by the factors such increased healthcare awareness, improving network infrastructure, rising rural population and government initiatives towards digitalization in countries like India and China.


In addition, improving internet connectivity, reduction in costs and increasing use of mHealth for various surveillance and awareness programs for rural areas drive the growth of mHealth in the region. Growing number of surveillance programs for AIDS & other infectious disease and rising incidence of chronic diseases in Latin America and Middle East Asia drives the demand for mHealth applications.

Author
Ananya Bhandari
Ananya is a MBA in Marketing with a professional experience of nearly three years in healthcare domain. She is a Research Analyst, medical devices and healthcare IT, at Grand View Research. Ananya has been working with various Fortune 500 companies in medical devices and healthcare IT domain. She is well versed with healthcare market trends and specializes in strategy building and competition insights. She has successfully driven a team and delivered over 100 market research, due diligence, and consulting assignments for various industry participants and management consultants.
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What does it take to build real-world #AI enabled healthcare solution? By Vijayananda J, @vijayanandaj



Development of new technologies has undoubtedly enabled several breakthroughs in the healthcare industry. To put it simply, it has revolutionised the growth of healthcare from nascent patient-care to accomplishing treatment of life-threatening diseases. High-performance computing and the availability of digital data have extended these remarkable outcomes explaining why AI-based healthcare solutions are at top of the funding lists and are continuously gaining traction.

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NITI Aayog’s National Health Stack - a Healthy Stack?! by Divya Raj @divyaraj1




Extraordinary problems need extraordinary solutions. And creating a country level IT infrastructure addressing challenges in India's Healthcare management for its 1.3 billion population definitely falls very well into that category. 

NITI Aayog's “National Health Stack - Strategy and Approach” document published in July ’18 is a good starting point in the direction of digitizing India's healthcare management for meeting the challenge of healthcare of India's masses. It’s a clear reflection of the realization that India’s Healthcare needs a digital infrastructure. The National Health Stack (NHS) is outlined as a "visionary digital framework" with four key components -- electronic health registries of health service providers and beneficiaries, a coverage and claims platform, a federated personal health records framework and a national health analytics platform. 


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#Blockchain in Healthcare: Will it or won't it survive? By Tirupathi Karthik, @TirupathiKarthi




What is Blockchain

Blockchain offers a permanent record of online transactions. Transactions are deemed as a “Block” and a ledger binds them in a “chain” thus earning its moniker “Blockchain”. Each transaction is validated and stored by a network participant based on rules but sans a governing central authority. Information can neither be modified nor copied or deleted.

Every transaction has a time and date stamp, offering a trusted transaction history and allowing verification of such records. Since the information is encrypted, the only way to access the blockchain is with a passcode. This shared ledger system makes Blockchain rather secure. Given this, Blockchain is gaining new use cases for applications that require trusted and immutable data.

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