The healthcare industry is on the verge of a “demographic earthquake”, as reported by the United States Census Bureau in March 2016. The earthquake refers to the trend where people over the age of 65 are expected to outnumber those below five, by 2020; and by 2050, the 65+ population is anticipated to be twice the number of children.
This phenomenon points to one important direction – the need for timely healthcare services for the rising aging population. Growing number of patients indicate that healthcare providers will have to keep up with large-sized inventory, billing and claims processing, besides high numbers of appointment scheduling and digitization of patient records. The challenge will be to keep all processing seamless, while ensuring that patient pain points are constantly addressed.
While a large number of health-services institutions are still unsure of how AI-powered tools can be incorporated into their systems, the numbers do not lie – according to a recent Accenture analysis, artificial intelligence could create $150 billion in annual savings for the US healthcare economy by 2026. Here’s a look at how AI-backed RPA tools are transforming (and will transform) the way this industry functions:
Managing dynamic customer databases
Healthcare organizations, on a day-to-day basis, collect large quantities of data on patients. These details include appointment schedules, patient health history and current ailment/conditions, transactions, medications and so on. Add to this the information that doctors and nurses take down while interacting with the patients, such as their vitals, prescription drug usage, other ailments, etc. that need to be recorded. RPA helps track all the disparate data and stacks them together for easy access. When each patient’s information is available at the click of a button, it helps medical practitioners make quicker and more effective decisions.
Healthcare seekers, on the other hand, are not completely unaware of how RPA is transforming their lives. Digitization of patients’ hospital records means patients have access to their information such as health reports, billing information and medical histories, besides having the ease of appointment scheduling and timely reminders, all under a unified platform.
A well-established RPA system’s greatest strength lies in its ability to facilitate healthcare organizations to harness the mammoth data residing in their data warehouses. An effective RPA platform extracts information, analyzes the data and helps healthcare officials make timely decisions, while meeting their goals based on pre-determined rules.
Impact on healthcare supply chain
Organizations that have identified areas for RPA applications have made holistic improvements to processes and workflows. Like in any other industry, the healthcare sector is gradually experiencing productivity optimization, by reassigning mundane tasks to bots, and redefining work for employees and assigning them to high value activities. The healthcare supply chain has hence felt the impact of RPA, reducing costs and human errors, while improving efficiency and compliance.
Easing claims processing
Claims processing is one of the most monotonous activities that healthcare staff have to perform on a regular basis. Tasks such as patient data and claims management, claims clearing and reporting, remittance management and claims status follow ups take up a good amount of time and can be riddled with inaccuracies and delays. When an RPA system is assigned to claims processing management, the same tasks can be achieved without any hassles, delays and errors.
One aspect of healthcare that is slowly gaining traction is care management. Forget visiting the healthcare practitioner at his clinic. It is the day and age of “taking the doctor home” with you; and powerful RPA systems are behind this tremendous transformation.
RPA streamlines the many workflows involved in care management – coordinating care, promoting wellness, offering remote management – ensuring that patient information remains centralized, while assuring patients that good health care is accessible to them even when they are at home, work or traveling many miles away from their healthcare provider.
Improving the healthcare system
A major impact that RPA has made on the healthcare system is pushing it to improve on a day-to-day scale. With all the information that it stores, churns, analyzes and dispatches, the RPA system learns and improves on itself, while encouraging the entire healthcare platform to modify and better the services offered.
Tracking progress is an important function of the RPA system; and with processes becoming more accurate, efficient and timely, the overall healthcare system will begin to reflect this improvement, leading to reinforced services and better teamwork, and eventually happier patients.
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Real-life use cases of RPA in healthcare
- 50 Norwegian public hospitals and institutions chose to automate several of their time-consuming but mundane tasks and establish a centralized RPA system. Some of the areas that experienced significant workflow transformation were the maternity wards, tracking and dispatching electronic epicrisis (document that sums up patient medical case history) from hospitals to general practitioners, and access management, among others. These healthcare institutions realized several benefits including saving time, prevention of redundant documentation, increased data quality, privacy, and increased motivation among human employees.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine, a leading US health system, launched its AI-powered solutions to combat clinician and caregiver burnout and help them achieve professional goals, besides maximizing engagement. The conversational AI-powered clinical documentation solutions implemented by the healthcare provider aims at fostering better physician productivity and satisfaction, increasing quality metrics for reporting, and enhancing physician-patient interactions by easing the burden of documentation physicians.
The healthcare industry is plagued by tremendous administrative burdens that slow practitioners and their support system down and negatively impact patient-care related decision-making. RPA tools aid in mitigating these pain points, besides offering additional benefits of cost savings, process efficiencies and optimized patient care and subsequent experience. With better outcomes promised for the entire health-services industry, a majority of healthcare organizations will turn to RPA, sooner than later.