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Understanding the Role of RPA in Healthcare

This article was written by Ma-Keba Frye, SEO Content Writer at MuleSoft.

High operating costs, slow and redundant processes, strict compliance regulations, and high patient volumes burden today's healthcare industry. These challenges negatively impact the speed and quality of patient care, process management, and overall operations. Much like other industries, such as financial services, manufacturing, and retail, automation is fundamental to accelerating healthcare digital transformation. With many technologies emerging to support this shift, implementing digital capabilities like robotic process automation in healthcare can impact efficiency and improve the patient experience. 

What is RPA?

Robotic process automation (RPA) uses automation and robotics or "software bots" to perform high-volume, rule-based, repetitive tasks. RPA tools streamline workflows by mimicking human actions to reduce workloads, enhance efficiency, and more. While it can be a short-term solution for some organizations, with proper planning, incorporating RPA software into your healthcare tech stack can provide long-term support that impacts costs, business continuity, and productivity.

What role does RPA play in healthcare?

Many tasks within healthcare are often done manually, including staffing, data management, administrative duties, claims management, and more. Since these processes depend on human intervention, they're prone to errors, limit productivity, and lead to numerous operational inefficiencies. This can translate to poor patient experiences, short staffing, overworked employees, slower processes, and high operating costs.

Integrating RPA into healthcare allows organizations to do more with less by automating tasks based on predefined rules and conditions and structured data and logic. Whether data collection and management, handling patient care and scheduling or running IT helpdesks, RPA tools increase productivity, improve patient outcomes, and increase employee satisfaction.

By using RPA in tandem with more advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP), healthcare organizations can move beyond reducing human efforts and automating tasks. Instead, they can elevate operations by intelligently performing human-level tasks, including resolving business issues, making informed decisions, analyzing data, and more. 

How does RPA benefit healthcare?

With increased workloads, a diminished workforce, and mounting costs, RPA tools and software can alleviate several headaches in the healthcare industry. Implementing RPA in healthcare can:

  • Improve and personalize the patient experience: Reducing staff involvement in repetitive tasks frees up their time for more face-to-face or virtual patient encounters, allows more personalized and thorough care, streamlined patient onboarding, and greater visibility into the entire patient record for better decision-making
  • Improve accuracy: By eliminating error-prone, manual tasks, healthcare organizations can ensure greater accuracy and consistency across data collection, reporting, and tasks
  • Increase productivity: Automating time-consuming and repetitive activities allows healthcare staff to shift their time and focus to more complex business areas
  • Reduce costs: RPA technology takes activities that are labor, time, and resource intensive and automates them to save money by performing them faster, more accurately, and with less human intervention
  • Improve employee satisfaction: RPA bots enhance human capabilities and relieve employees of taxing and monotonous tasks, enabling them to apply their skills to other areas, reduce burnout, and improve performance
  • Regulatory compliance: Data handling and reporting with RPA bots helps to optimize the process and adhere to compliance regulations regarding sensitive patient information
  • Enhance interoperability: With RPA, healthcare organizations can exchange once-siloed data between disparate systems, such as electronic medical records (EMRs) and electronic health records (EHRs), to provide seamless access to health data and a higher level of patient care and satisfaction

What are the potential use cases of RPA in healthcare?

RPA technology automates tasks across several areas of healthcare organizations, including front-office tasks and records management to billing and processing. Some examples of RPA in healthcare are:

  • Administrative data entry: As one of the most critical healthcare tasks, administrative data entry is prone to errors when done manually, but with RPA, data inputs can be collected from various sources, converted into structured data, and input into a database
  • Appointment scheduling: Using RPA, healthcare organizations can increase appointment scheduling efficiency and eliminate laborious manual tasks by evaluating and using incoming data such as patient symptoms, doctor availability, and more to set up appointments to enhance patient admission and discharge
  • Claims management and processing: Healthcare organizations manage and process a high volume of claims, which can be repetitive and time-consuming, but with RPA, they can use rules-based decision-making to automate the process and eliminate errors while ensuring regulatory compliance
  • Compliance management and audit procedures: RPA improves governance and regulatory compliance by collecting detailed logs and generating accurate audit reports
  • Data entry, management, and migration: Whether onboarding new employees or migrating patient records, automation eliminates manual tasks and streamlines documenting printing, scanning, and data entry
  • Discharge instructions: Organizations can program RPA bots to deliver discharge and medication guidelines and inform patients of tests and appointments 
  • Medical billing: Billing and claims interactions and tasks between healthcare providers and insurance companies are typically repetitive; however, with RPA bots, healthcare organizations can automate processes to handle everything from follow-ups to first-line inquiries
  • Patient onboarding: RPA helps healthcare organizations easily collect patient information, including medical data, insurance information, and demographics, and allows staff to create or update their EHRs and EMRs
  • Records management: Healthcare organizations must follow strict compliance protocols to protect patient information and medical records; implementing RPA bots allows for consistent and accurate records management

Achieve efficiency by implementing RPA in your healthcare operations.

Repetitive tasks, human error, and heavy workloads can be costly to an organization, employees, and patients. Using RPA for healthcare processes can virtually automate any manual and repetitive task and reduce its dependencies on human intelligence. As a result, they can improve operational efficiencies, cut costs, limit errors, empower employees, and enhance patient care and experiences. 

Automation is a powerful tool that powers and delivers connected experiences across the healthcare sector. Check out MuleSoft RPA to learn more about how digital transformation can help your healthcare organization do more with less.