It was exactly a decade ago that the World Healthcare Organization (WHO) made a prediction. It warned the healthcare providers and other entities of a possible shortage of healthcare professionals by 2035, at a massive scale, 12.9 million to be precise. Within just seven years, WHO’s fear and predictions came true to haunt not just the healthcare industry but every human being on earth.
On the bright side, this massive resource crunch opened the gate for some much-needed reform. The adoption of newer technologies to streamline operations and maximize resource usage topped the priority list of healthcare leaders. Robotic process automation is one of those technologies that witnessed a remarkable adoption in the healthcare sector. RPA in healthcare was embraced by healthcare organizations across the world to fight an unprecedented disaster.
What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a technology that allows organizations to automate repetitive, manual tasks and improve efficiency. Designed to be easy to use and can be set up to automate specific tasks or entire processes, RPA software robots are typically used to automate administrative tasks as well as any manual tasks that are time-consuming, repetitive, or prone to human error. It is particularly beneficial for organizations that need to process large amounts of data or that focus on increasing operational efficiency and reducing costs.
However, it is important to note that RPA is not a standalone solution, it is often integrated with other technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to enhance its capability and to enable automation of more complex tasks.
What's the Role of RPA in Healthcare Organizations?
RPA, or Robotic Process Automation, can help streamline healthcare operations by automating repetitive tasks such as data entry, scheduling appointments, and processing insurance claims. This can lead to increased efficiency and accuracy, as well as reduced costs and improved patient care. Additionally, healthcare automation can also be used to analyze large amounts of medical data, which can help identify patterns and improve decision-making.
Gartner has consistently included RPA in their list of top strategic technology trends and has noted that RPA can help organizations automate repetitive, manual tasks and improve efficiency. According to Forrester, by 2025, RPA software revenue will reach $6.5 billion, up from $1.1 billion in 2019. This growth is primarily driven by factors such as the increasing adoption of electronic health records (EHR), the need to reduce healthcare costs, and the growing demand for improved patient care.
RPA in healthcare is implemented in various areas, such as claims processing, revenue cycle management, patient data management, and clinical operations. RPA is also being used to support the management of back-office processes, such as human resources, finance and accounting, and supply chain management. By implementing RPA, healthcare providers can enable healthcare workers as well as medical professionals to focus on more strategic tasks that warrant human intervention.
Top 7 Applications of RPA in Healthcare Industry
#1 Patient onboarding
RPA can help streamline the patient onboarding process in healthcare by automating tasks such as:
- Data Entry: RPA can be trained to enter patient information into EHRs and other systems, reducing the need for manual data entry and reducing the risk of errors.
- Verification: RPA can automatically verify patient information, such as insurance coverage, demographic information, and medical history. This can help ensure that patient information is accurate and up-to-date and can also help identify any potential issues or discrepancies.
- Scheduling: Similarly, it can also automatically schedule patient appointments, reducing the need for manual scheduling.
- Paperwork: One of the major issues healthcare providers face is managing a colossal amount of physical documents and related paperwork. By automating paperwork processing, such as digitizing patient forms and automatically entering information into EHRs, RPA helps reduce the amount of time and resources and significantly improves the patient experience by reducing the amount of time they spend completing paperwork.
- Payment processing: RPA can be used to automate the process of collecting and processing patient payments, reducing the need for manual data entry and reducing the risk of human errors.
By implementing RPA, healthcare organizations are able to improve the onboarding experience and overall patient satisfaction and make it more efficient, accurate and cost-effective.
#2 Billing process
Medical billing and coding operations are two areas that play a crucial role in delivering faster, high-quality patient experience. That’s why healthcare providers tend to outsource medical billing tasks which often leads to low-quality work, a high denial rate, and lesser control over the billing process. Other challenges with medical billing are old, inefficient systems, legacy software, late payments, coding errors, manual processes, inefficient tracking processes, and compliance violations.
Robotic process automation can be used in almost every step involved in billing, starting from building complex billing workflows end-to-end and adjudication processes to generating patient statements, effective compliance management, or following up on payments. By fully automating the billing process, healthcare organizations can significantly boost revenue cycle management, positively impacting the bottom line.
RPA in Medical Billing: 8 Steps Towards Full Automation
Step 1: Patients Registration
Step 5: Transmitting Claims
Step 2: Financial Responsibility Check
Step 6: Adjudication Process
Step 3: Appointment Bookings
Step 7: Generating Patient Statements
Step 4: Coding and Billing Compliance Checks
Step 8: Following up on Patient’s Payments
#3 Claims management
RPA can streamline claims processing and claims management in multiple ways, ranging from basic tasks such as document scanning or document digitization process to more advanced workflow building or ML-powered adjudication or fraud detection. Here's a quick comparison between traditional and automated claims processing.
#4 Data analytics and diagnostics
As we discussed before, every day, any healthcare provider collects a vast amount of patient data that goes untouched. By implementing RPA in healthcare, one can easily analyze this data, generate insightful information, trends and patterns, and offer personalized user experience. Additionally, healthcare providers can also integrate RPA into their telehealth services to conduct digital/virtual screening, accelerate diagnostic processes, and provide timely and effective support to patients. This automation of data processing can also impact the overall patient data recording and management and pave the way for structured data.
#5 Electronic records and data sharing
This is one of the most important use cases of RPA in healthcare. The healthcare industry is perhaps one of the most regulated industries besides banking and finance due to the sensitive data that it handles day-in and day-out. However, EHRs are often considered monolithic, extremely difficult to use, and rigid systems which do not allow the much-required interoperability required to seamlessly share patient data or patient records among clinicians and medical professionals across organizations. Intelligent automation solves this problem by automating all data entry, transferring the same to patient medical records, and scheduling appointments in the EHR.
#6 Report generation
Report generation is one of the key steps in any healthcare system. Unlike in the past, today, reports are very interactive. This can be further improved by bringing healthcare automation and RPA into the process. RPA can extract data by accessing a healthcare database or application web interface, assist healthcare workers in creating reports, and emailing copies of the reports to concerned individuals/departments, resulting in cost savings and streamlined operational processes.
#7 Post treatment management
RPA's use cases in healthcare do not stop once the patient leaves the care facility. It stretches well beyond that too. For example, once a patient leaves a healthcare facility and goes back home, the automated hospital post treatment system can send reminders to take medications, food, or prompt other necessary activities, document results, create and follow a meal plan, and more. It can also provide post-medication guidelines, reducing the need to visit the clinics only to emergencies.
While these are the most essential use cases of RPA in healthcare, some other equally significant applications can be optical character recognition, intelligent document processing, insurance verification, seeking prior authorization from patients, prescription management, and asset tracking, among others. No matter what the application is, by integrating RPA into healthcare, the healthcare sector can cross one of the major steps in their digital transformation journey as well as achieve smarter resource usage by leaving manual mundane tasks, front office tasks and repetitive processes to software robots. By doing so, the health sector can maximize the value of its human employees and human intelligence, be it healthcare practitioners or any other medical professionals and human workers, enhancing both employee satisfaction and patient experience.
Cloud4C provides comprehensive end-to-end services in building robust, reusable Robotic Process Automation solutions. Whether assessing business feasibility for automation or consultation services for identifying the right processes or implementing, deploying and managing RPA Robots, Cloud4C services can help with customized Robotic Process Automation solutions designed for your business-specific needs. For more information, visit our Robotic Process Automation Services page.