Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has transformed various industry sectors such as manufacturing, construction, and telecommunication. The use of this technology in these industries is a given, considering the nature of the output that is required. Healthcare, on the other hand, is often overlooked as an industry that can benefit from automation. But this could not be further from the truth. RPA stands to revolutionise the healthcare sector by automating rule-based tasks in high volumes, manipulating data, processing transactions, and communicating with other digital systems, and trigger responses. Most importantly, RPA bots have the ability to generate accurate results while avoiding errors that could prove fatal.
Healthcare professionals across the world carry out multiple procedures and tasks such as collecting patient reports and data, billing and claims management, patient onboarding, providing prescriptions, and delegating medical professionals. While these tedious and time-consuming tasks are often done manually, or with the help of some form of proprietary software, the fact remains that there is always scope for human error. Over and above this, healthcare institutions must ensure compliance for various rules and regulations which are constantly changing. It’s to this effect, that the use of RPA can help take the grunt work out of these processes.
1. Simplifying patient appointment scheduling
At the very offset, before a patient steps foot in a hospital, there is an opportunity for RPA to be employed. With online scheduling of appointments is becoming more common, hospitals and medical facilities find themselves needing to collect data such as personal information, diagnosis, and insurance details. Scheduling appointments based on this patient data can be a time-consuming process. Patient appointments have to be aligned with different doctors’ schedules and their availability in hospitals. Also, if in the event that a doctor cannot make the appointment, the patient needs to be informed and rescheduled, hence scheduling patient appointments can be a complicated task.
By implementing RPA at the very first step, hospitals can benefit from automated scheduling. RPA bots can optimally schedule patient appointments according to diagnosis, location, doctor availability, and other criteria. RPA systems can examine patient data to create a report that can be sent to a referral management representative to aid in fixing an appointment. In addition, RPA bots can notify patients when doctors are unavailable for their appointment.
2. Help in account settlements
Depending on how long a patient is admitted, and based on the cause for admission, there will be a little or a lot of billing. Various consumables (such as syringes, IV medications, saline drips etc) or consultations will need to be monitored, calculated, and evaluated while the patient is admitted. Handling all of this data manually through handovers across multiple shifts can easily lead to human error in the final bill. Using RPA bots here can streamline and simplify this process immensely.
RPA bots can precisely calculate the bill amount considering the costs for tests, medicines, ward charges, meals, and consultation fees. RPA software can intimate patients of their bill amount and even receive digital payments. By using RPA software, healthcare providers can reduce payment delays and inaccuracies associated with the calculation of a patient’s final bill. This proves that leveraging RPA in healthcare services can easily speed up account settlements.
3. Simplifying insurance claims
The number of people with health insurance in India is increasing. According to an article by Businessline, In 2017-18, general and health insurance companies collected ₹37,029 crores as health insurance premium, registering a growth of 21.8 per cent over 2016-17, according to the latest annual report of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI). Managing in-patient insurance claims involves processes like data input, processing, evaluation, and most importantly, dealing with appeals. The entire process, if handled manually or using nonproprietary software, can prove to be inefficient and error-prone.
The efficient use of RPA in healthcare services can streamline the process of managing insurance claims. RPA bots can speed up data processing for insurance claims while avoiding human error. In this way, RPA bots can avoid delays and monitor the entire process. These bots can also identify compliance-related exceptions while avoiding non-compliance of regulations. Therefore, the adoption of RPA in healthcare services can improve the efficiency of complex insurance claims management procedures.
4. Facilitating discharge instructions
A doctors job does not end after the patient has been discharged. When leaving a hospital, patients are given prescriptions, medications, and are required to follow post-discharge guidelines to help them with certain symptoms. Checking whether the patients follow these instructions is almost impossible for hospitals. For example, after dialysis, patients may suffer from fatigue or loss of appetite. In cases like this, doctors may prescribe medications for their condition and suggest follow-ups. Healthcare institutions are unable to monitor and ensure compliance of such discharge instructions.
By integrating mobile applications and RPA software, hospitals can ensure the accuracy of discharge guidelines and send reminders to patients about prescription pick-ups. Doctors can also notify their patients about upcoming appointments and medical tests. With this approach, healthcare providers can enhance their patient’s experience, provide better healthcare, and reduce readmissions.
5. Managing healthcare workflows
Managing hospitals and healthcare institutions involves various crucial workflows such as managing and coordinating healthcare, case and utilization management, remote monitoring, and population wellness. These important workflows contain routine tasks that are imperative for healthcare providers and patients. In most cases, the workflows are managed manually, which can be an inefficient approach.
By employing RPA, healthcare services can centralize and streamline various workflows. Assigning these routine tasks from nurses and administrators to bots can result in cost savings for healthcare providers. Also, automating critical workflows will improve efficiency across the entire workflow. With this approach, healthcare professionals can spend the majority of their time on patient care and other critical activities.
There is one major drawback of leveraging RPA in healthcare, however. RPA can only process structured data and work with a rule-based approach – but there is a silver lining. The advent of intelligent process automation (IPA) will make RPA smarter. With the help of cognitive technologies and machine learning in healthcare, IPA will be able to process unstructured data and make informed decisions. The applications developed with the help of IPA will be even more beneficial than RPA itself.