According to a report by Global Market Insights, Robotic Processing Automation (RPA) market will likely reach $5 bn by 2024.
While healthcare isn’t the first industry that comes to our mind when we think of implementing robotic process automation, it has great potential for transforming repetitive tasks in this industry and improve them. With growing population and increase in the number of patients, the need for efficient, cost effective and error-free processes (like scheduling patients, billing, insurance claim processing etc) gain importance. RPA provides such solutions.
Global robotic process automation market
Image Source:Grand View Research
Besides the administrative tasks, RPA software are now used to reorder consumable supplies and reporting problems with medical equipment. For example, bots can be “trained” to expedite restocking of ambulances after a run, or scheduling the tasks involved in routine reviews of charts.
According to this report, Healthcare segment is expected to be one of the fastest-growing segment for RPA over the forecast period. RPA provides an opportunity to reorganize the administrative processes for the segment by replacing tedious tasks that inhibit information flow.
RPA in brief
Before we go on to discuss the application of RPA within the healthcare industry, let’s understand what is RPA in brief.
The first thing that comes to mind when someone says “Robotic Process Automation” are the images of robots on the shopfloor of an automotive industry, manufacturing parts of cars, but that is not RPA. The robots that are involved in RPA aren’t tangible or physical in nature.
They are software or bots that mimic human actions and follow simple instructions to complete a task that is generally repetitive or routine in nature(for example, gathering data from different systems, adjusting insurance claims or processing orders).
According to Symphony, RPA has the capability (software and services) that allows you to transact in any IT application or website, typically in the same way a human would, to automate complex, rule-based work. In other words, RPA software allows developers to tailor complex automation to a company’s process.
When RPA is applied to any industry (including healthcare), it can result in several benefits. To name a few,
Research and analysis
Gone are the days when healthcare providers were reliant on physical books of records and paper charts. WIth increase in patients and regulations, providers are increasingly digitizing patient information in form of electronic records.
RPA software robots reduce error in data migration and copying tasks. Digitization of patient’s paper records is no exception. With help of RPAs, healthcare providers can now maintain up-to-date and accurate records. This is important for patients when their medical information and history is consulted in the course of any treatment given to them.
Use of RPAs in healthcare can result in increased levels of customer service and ease the process of accessing healthcare information.
In 2009, a Texas hospital study found that greater automation in the areas of medical records, order entry, and decision support appeared to result in a reduction in deaths, complications and cost
It is not uncommon for patients to cancel their appointments due to a variety of reasons. Many healthcare providers suffer financially due to such cancellation of appointments, no-shows or missed appointments.
RPAs can be used to minimize the no-shows or missed appointments by sending reminders to both patients and doctors. This decreases the probability of missing appointment. Also will help doctors maximize the number of patients they see everyday.
RPA not only benefits healthcare industry but positively impacts patients who have access to optimized service and faster appointments.
Patient scheduling process
When a patient visits a doctor, an insurance claim form is filed, patient is billed for the remaining amount and accounts receivables are monitored to ensure the patient makes the payment. These processes are time consuming and prone to errors. By automating parts of billing and claims process, healthcare providers can have better control over account receivables.
RPA software bots can improve billing efficiency and reduce write-offs by careful monitoring accounts payable and receivable of patients.
Adjudication refers to the process of analyzing whether insurance companies are liable to pay for the healthcare services provided to the patients. It can be a complicated, expensive and lengthy process.
With help of RPAs, developers can now create a rule based code that automates the process and makes a decision based on the agreed terms and conditions in the contract. It reduces the time and expense which is otherwise taken in these process.
A recent publication by Alsbridge argues the cost reduction alone by implementingrobotic process automation solutions is reason enough for the healthcare industry to take notice of process automation:
Insurance claims analysis
Decreased time to do menial tasks means more resources, money, time and coverage for patients. This will result in improved patient care.
Healthcare systems are now focusing on population health, an approach that aims to improve the health of the entire human population. For such a massive scale management, RPAs are the only way.
As the Institute of Health Technology Transformation reports, “Automation makes population health management feasible, scalable and sustainable.”
RPAs can support utilization management, case management and remote monitoring of patients within the systems which can ensure high quality care. Healthcare providers can see patients that have deviated from their care plans and intervene as necessary.
As discussed above, RPAs frees up the time of doctors and healthcare providers who can then spend that time with their patients to manage caseloads and focus on their work
With growing number of patients entering healthcare systems in the years to come, RPA is a quintessential tool to the healthcare providers in streaming processes, saving costs, gaining efficiency and increase the quality of patient care by leaps and bounds.