#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

No comments:

Post a Comment




POPULAR POSTS

Popular Posts