Robotic Process Automation’s Potential in Healthcare

By | September 5, 2020

David Chou, SVP & CIO, Harris Health System

Industry experts are predicting that usage of robotic process automation (RPA) will increase healthcare while transforming the organization. The adoption rate has been low and slow due to rudimentary use cases. Automation to assist with tasks in HR and revenue cycle continues to dominate most healthcare RPA examples on the market today. Unfortunately, it is difficult for a CIO to justify an enterprise-level scripting system financially.

According to Gartner, 50 percent of US healthcare providers will invest in RPA in the next three years. However, healthcare CIOs are not searching for standalone RPA systems. Instead, they will consider RPA features when they upgrade an existing system in their current portfolio.

Examples of Healthcare RPA Use Cases

One use case of RPA in HR is in the area of hiring and screening candidates. Software robots can compile resumes to compare the information with the job requirements. The combination of robots with AI can be a predictor for when an employee might leave, while quickly identifying potential replacement candidates.

Another example is onboarding automation, specifically in IT system credentialing. This function traditionally resides with an identity access management system or within an RPA automation solution. The robotic software will integrate with ERP as the employee system of truth, and workflow will be designed to streamline enterprise system access privileges for the user. Usage of software robots, coupled with an ERP solution, will simplify employee system access while ensuring an audit trail for regulatory compliance.

Healthcare revenue cycle, specifically in patient insurance authorization, has been a prominent use case to collect information from insurance websites and other disparate systems to integrate with the EMR.

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These examples are highlighted by many RPA vendors. Unfortunately, the current RPA solutions solve a fundamental task versus a complicated task, putting technology decision-makers in a difficult position to justify the return on investment for a standalone RPA system.

Buying Decisions

Currently, the RPA vendor landscape includes many niche players, but many healthcare organizations are in the evaluation stages of their cloud ERP solution. Therefore, this is the perfect time to explore the ERP’s built-in automation tools rather than a standalone RPA solution.

Some next-generation cloud ERP solutions offer the platform to build intelligent automation within the ERP system. This approach allows workflow automation and mapping to focus on back-office transformation in functional areas such as HR, supply chain, and finance.

Recently, we have also seen many enterprise systems grow their presence in the RPA space. Microsoft acquired Softomotive to expand the robotic process automation with Power Automate. The acquisition is a big move for Microsoft, as CIOs now have another decision to think through if they’re currently a Microsoft O365 enterprise user. Should the CIO develop automation on their existing Microsoft Power Automate platform?

Hyland, a content management vendor with a significant presence with healthcare providers, acquired RPA vendor Another Monday to boost their automation offering. As the CIO focuses on helping their organization automate, they will have to contemplate their portfolio strategy, since they have many options to choose from within their current portfolio.

Post pandemic, healthcare organizations are under extreme cost pressures, and CIOs have to be prudent with their procurement decisions. The consensus is that RPA will save money. Still, the key will be to utilize a solution within the existing list of products in the portfolio to minimize additional systems to support and integrate. Next-generation RPA solution must solve complex routines with features such as process mining and process discovery to attract the CIO’s attention as a must-have solution.

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This piece was originally published on David Chou’s blog page. To follow him on Twitter, click here.

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