17 Mar 2020 - Digital Strategy // By Scott Pandel

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for Healthcare: Use Cases and Benefits

Healthcare providers increasingly have to do more with less due to the increasing needs of the modern patient. Healthcare staff has to digitize patient files, optimize appointment scheduling, and execute billing and claims processing—which are manual and time-consuming tasks. These tasks lead to less focus on patients and patient experience. To improve these pain points, healthcare providers are starting to embrace digital transformation. Robotic process automation (RPA) in healthcare can be used to automate business processes and drive enhanced efficiency and growth – all while improving patient care.

Which healthcare tasks are primed for optimization with RPA? Managerial, back-office and patient-facing processes have the most opportunities to be automated, allowing healthcare providers to offer more direct, customized patient care at lower costs and increased efficiency.

4 Benefits of Healthcare RPA

RPA brings numerous benefits to healthcare providers. With less time spent on manual tasks, staff members can focus more on providing better patient care and staying HIPAA compliant, while reducing costs.

1. Better patient support

Patient care is one of the most important tasks for healthcare providers. RPA allows healthcare providers to improve their patient-facing operations and provide better care for each patient’s unique needs. 

2. Improved HIPAA and data compliance

Failing to be HIPAA compliant is a costly error for healthcare providers and one of their top concerns. For example, The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) had to pay a $3 million dollar fine because of unencrypted flash drives. Healthcare providers rely on many different applications to store patient data, and securing it can seem complicated. With RPA, HIPAA compliance becomes easier to manage.

One benefit of RPA is role-based access. By using role-based access, RPA bots make sure that the correct people are accessing private information as necessary. RPA allows healthcare providers to control data access. This control is especially important as doctors, IT staff or claims departments all need varying levels of access. Even better, RPA can be set up to automatically keep detailed audit histories. This data can be made available to internal or external auditors to assist in their investigations.

3. Reduced costs

With robots handling many time-consuming tasks, they allow employees to focus on more strategic projects. A software robot’s expense is typically one-fifth of the cost of a full-time healthcare staff member. With RPA, healthcare providers can leverage a cost-effective workforce and significantly reduce operating costs.

4. Less repetitive work

With RPA, healthcare staff can focus on delivering care rather than entering data. For example, nurses spend a large portion of time monitoring email inboxes or entering information in multiple applications. With RPA, the bots can take over repetitive human tasks – this allows them to focus on the core of their role and the unique care they can provide as a human caregiver. In the case of nurses, they can focus less on data entry or application entry tasks and more on patient care. 

A link to download our Intelligent Automation ebook

5 RPA Use Cases in Healthcare

If a healthcare provider chooses to implement RPA, how do they decide which processes to automate? There are many manual patient-facing and back-office processes available for automation. Here are 5 examples of healthcare RPA use cases:

1. Easier patient appointment scheduling

More and more patients are scheduling appointments online. Healthcare providers have to collect sensitive personal information and insurance details during the scheduling process. Once the information is collected, the staff has to determine which doctors to schedule appointments with. It’s a tedious process when multiple appointments are scheduled every day. 

Appointments have to be aligned with doctors’ schedules and availability. If patients need to be diagnosed by a urologist, their appointment must be fixed according to the urologist’s timing. If the urologist is unable to tend to their patients, the hospital staff needs to inform the patients beforehand via a phone call or email.

Implementing RPA in healthcare can improve inefficiencies around scheduling appointments. RPA bots can schedule appointments according to diagnosis, doctor availability, and other important criteria. RPA systems can also scan patient data to create reports that can be sent to referral management representatives to fix the appointment. 

2. Patient discharge instructions

Patients have to follow post-discharge guidelines to help with managing their conditions. It’s almost impossible to check if every single patient is following discharge instructions. For example, after dialysis treatments, patients may suffer a loss of appetite or a lack of energy. So a doctor will prescribe medications for their condition and suggest follow-up appointments. 

With RPA bots, healthcare providers can ensure patients follow discharge guidelines by sending reminders about picking up their prescriptions. RPA bots can also notify patients about upcoming appointments.

3. Improved claims processing

Effective claims processing and management are some of the biggest hurdles in the world of hospital administration. Healthcare providers that process claims accurately and efficiently are much closer to staying financially stable than those that don’t. Medical facilities can face a large volume of claims and the process for handling them can involve multiple applications.

RPA streamlines the overly manual process of claims processing. An automated file transfer automates the daily transfer of individual claims files to File Transfer Protocol (FTP) servers. When the files are detected on the FTP server, an RPA task launches and combines the patient files. This securely transfers files from the health information system to the claims management system.

RPA software can also automate the process of auditing to ensure no claims are overlooked. An RPA solution can parse through the claim files and extract critical information. In the event that the number of claims processed does not match the expected total, an audit report is generated for hospital staff.

4. Managing day to day workflows

Healthcare providers manage day to day processes, including:

  • Coordinating patient healthcare
  • Remote monitoring
  • Population wellness
  • Staff scheduling 

These mission-critical processes consist of manual, routine tasks that help keep institutions running efficiently. However, these processes are incredibly manual and time-consuming. 

RPA in healthcare management streamlines different processes that are ripe for automation. Moving these manual tasks from humans to bots results in cost savings for healthcare providers. 

Automating crucial processes improves efficiency across the board. With RPA, healthcare professionals are able to spend more time on patient care and wellness.

One drawback of using RPA in healthcare is that RPA only processes structured data and works within a rule-based approach. This is solved with the use of intelligent process automation (IPA) to make RPA “smarter.” With the help of machine learning, IPA can process unstructured data and make informed decisions. Applications developed with the help of IPA can bring more benefits than just utilizing  RPA alone.

5. Speed up account settlements

Healthcare providers have to monitor patient costs to keep their institutions running cost-effectively. Additionally, they have to make sure patients don’t fall behind on their payments. They also have to calculate the costs of tests, doctor fees, wardrooms, and other facilities. Tracking all of these costs quickly becomes complicated when multiple hospital staff members have to trace it. Manually tracking all costs and payments can be time-consuming and introduces the possibility of human error. 

RPA bots can accurately determine patient costs and keep track of payments. By leveraging RPA, providers can reduce payment delays and inaccuracies associated with the calculation of bill amount. Introducing RPA in healthcare services ultimately speeds up account settlements.

Healthcare RPA Vendors

As more healthcare providers consider RPA, these vendors have RPA technology that’s HIPAA compliant and have been proven to help improve operations that reduce overall costs by implementing RPA bots. 

  • UiPath develops a platform for healthcare RPA and other industries.
  • Automation Anywhere is another leading provider of healthcare RPA bots. 
  • WorkFusion’s AI-driven automation and RPA software offer intelligent automation at scale for healthcare providers.

How to Implement RPA in Healthcare 

By embracing RPA, healthcare providers can improve the patient experience while reducing costs and improving efficiency. Increased automation combined with more efficient processes will make the day-to-day easier for staff as they’ll spend less time on tedious manual work, and more time on patient wellness.

Productive Edge is a leading healthcare technology consulting firm in Chicago, specializing in helping healthcare providers implement RPA. We partner with our clients to enable patient-driven, technology-powered RPA experiences that reimagine and transform the way people live and work.

By teaming up with other leaders in this field such as Workfusion, UiPath, and Automation Anywhere, we have been able to provide our clients with instant results, using tactics like data alignment, problem framing, road mapping, and piloting new RPA bots.

To learn more about how the technology and digital strategy consultants at Productive Edge can help your business implement RPA, contact us to book a free consultation. 

A link to download our RPA ebook

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for Healthcare: Use Cases and Benefits