Robotic Automation in Healthcare: Boon or Bane?
The phrase “Customer is King” has probably entered healthcare and morphed into the “Patient is Prince!” Yes, today’s healthcare industry has become...
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The phrase “Customer is King” has probably entered healthcare and morphed into the “Patient is Prince!” Yes, today’s healthcare industry has become more patient-centric and cost-conscious. Optimizing patient-experience with functional efficiency and reducing costs have become the trident strategy of healthcare networks. This is where Robotic Process Automation or RPA makes its debut as the right solution in the healthcare industry.
What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?
Robotic Process Automation is the process of applying automation software to execute tasks and applications in systems by interacting in a human-like manner. In RPA, virtual workers interact with IT systems to replicate tasks, take decisions and follow logical processes to ensure task completion.
The main objective of RPA is to automate mundane and repetitive tasks that are labour-intense and manual. In doing so, huge benefits are experienced like reduced costs, improved speed, better accuracy and freeing up of the staff to perform more high-value activities.
The role and benefits of RPA in healthcare
RPA uses intelligent software robots to automate the workflow from EHRs, healthcare partner ecosystems, payment portals, and finance and accounting systems without using complex code. The advantages of using RPA in healthcare are maximizing process efficiency by limiting errors and reducing costs.
RPA can be used in several areas of healthcare like:
The moment a patient enters a hospital, he is first asked to fill up a registration form. This mundane routine of filling forms continues every step of the way and is an ordeal for the patient who is in trauma. RPA brings a welcome relief to this patient onboarding process. Using their HER, the patient’s basic details are filled up in advance by the RPA saving time for both patients and doctors. Doctors get more time to spend with the patient then note down basic details or parameters, all of which is done by RPA. Patient scheduling, Patient Health Records Management and Patient Data Management are all done by RPA in minutes.
Rising overheads have become a constant strain on healthcare providers. Hospitals are looking at ways to cut down costs and one way to do this is by using RPA.
RPA diminishes staffing costs in both data entry and customer service. Firstly, it reduces manual data entry by aggregating all patient data in one central patient accounting system. Secondly, it expedites cost estimates by automating the benefits retrieval process. Thirdly, after a customer service call discussing the cost estimates, it encapsulates the conversation as an email and sends it to the patient immediately, ensuring quicker processing. Fourthly, it assists in pre-authorizations by retrieving data from websites and other sources and feeding them to the HIS directly. Lastly, it increases process efficiency by integrating with third-party tools to allow data sharing and processing.
Insurance claims administration
A study reveals that 31% of the healthcare providers still have manual insurance claims denial management and this affects their bottom-line. The administrative cost to recover one claim is roughly $116per item and this results in $8.6 billion admin costs.
The use of RPA in claims administration eliminates 200 hours of manual reviews and yields a 29% reduction in false claims. This amounts to $18 billion savings per year for large healthcare providers. Since all the processes are in-house, there is no need for outside contracted services and there is no chance of human error. Third-party claimants can submit their claims through a standard process. All insurance claims are checked, validated, accepted or denied using critical procedures which are automated and executed without delay.
The entire claims administration process in healthcare is streamlined if RPA is used with staff, cost and error reduction with improved accuracy.
Processing bills and managing payments is an enormous task in healthcare. RPA transforms and simplifies the accounting process in the healthcare industry. Monitoring payments to be received or sent, transferring account balances, raising invoices and processing payments are all done with complete efficiency and time management by RPA.
Inventory management is another bottleneck area in healthcare with excessive wastage due to the unnecessary stocking of hospital supplies and inefficient stock rotation. This can be solved with the help of RPA.
RPA can keep track of the inventory of hospital supplies and medicines, reorder the consumables, ensure diversion of supplies to critical areas by issuing alerts, restock ambulances after every run using bots etc. Such efficient inventory management can save money, time and lives in healthcare.
With RPA, many patient-related processes can be automated like patient registration, appointment scheduling, management of patient’s health records, delivery of reports etc. This leads to lower appointment cancellations for hospitals and lesser waiting time for patients. Patients can have more timely diagnoses and treatment with better customer service due to RPA.
RPA also uses chatbots to answer FAQs from patients thus enriching the patient’s experience. The use of AI ((Artificial Intelligence) in RPA has revolutionized the healthcare industry and enhanced the patient’s experience multifold.
Implementing RPA is a challenge but not a bane in healthcare. Since healthcare is a complex industry, RPA implementation may be time-consuming initially with a lot of changes in the daily routine of hospitals. Once this intricacy is overcome, RPA will be a boon for all hospitals and healthcare providers.
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