Robotic process automation in the healthcare industry

For every hour a physician provides direct clinical face time to patients, they spend 2 hours on record keeping. Automation can definitely play a role.
29 August 2018

Are healthcare professionals spending too much time on paperwork? Source: Shutterstock

Healthcare isn’t cheap. In fact, in most parts of the world, it’s an expensive proposition and involves many players.

The word healthcare means different things to different people. To some, it might mean undergoing a surgery, to others, it might mean a visit to a clinic or the general ward of a hospital, and to others, it might mean getting their prescription refilled regularly.

However, at every stage, the thing that most outsiders — patients and family members — fail to see is the amount of data entry and paperwork (physical or digital) that each healthcare provider maintains.

Yes, medicine is a precise science and record keeping is important, but much of the paperwork that healthcare professionals manage are more transactional than critical.

A study by the Annals of Internal Medicine found that primary care physicians spend 27 percent of their time on direct patient care but an amazing 49.2 percent on administrative activities. In effect, for every hour a physician provides direct clinical face time to patients, they spend 2 hours on record keeping.

However, there’s a cure for what ails the industry: Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Script-based robots that can automate several of the routine, repetitive tasks that professionals and medical practitioners spend their time on.

Here are some of the tasks RPAs can help healthcare professionals with:

# 1 | Data entry and migration

Patient data today is digitized. However, like most businesses, hospitals too bought their systems piecemeal and one doesn’t talk to the other.

As a result, healthcare professionals spend a lot of time entering data into systems and migrating information from one system to the other. RPA has a clear benefit in this aspect of administration.

# 2 | Patient scheduling

Patients aren’t always the best at keeping time or appointments. Neither are doctors. Both have genuine reasons — and a need for amendments, postponements, and cancellations to their appointments.

However, using hospital staff to do this is just a waste of resources. Instead, there are several ways to use RPA and automate patient scheduling altogether. Doing so can also significantly improve customer experience.

# 3 | Billing and claims processing

This one’s a biggie: billing and claims processing. It’s got to do with revenues and cash flows and has a direct impact on the financial welfare of a healthcare organization. However, this is where automation has the biggest benefits.

When healthcare professionals provide care and services to patients, they don’t want to be keeping a record of the medication they provide, find the cost, and add it to a file. Well, they don’t need to. RPA can handle that.

# 4 | Adjudication of insurance claims

A lot of your patients’ want you to charge their insurers for the services you provide to them. As a result, you need to go through the process of adjudication to analyze whether the insurance company is liable to. It can be a complicated, expensive, and lengthy process.

However, the way to do it starts with using a form in a prescribed format, recording all the details, authenticating it, and submitting it.

Using RPA, you can lighten the load, if nothing else. While serious or complicated issues might still need attention, most of the tasks can be automated in this case too.