What is RPA? Should you be using it in your healthcare organization?
Have you heard people talk about RPA, or Robotic Process Automation? It’s a buzzword lately (and really, who doesn’t love robots!). So what is it? What does it do? How can my team benefit?
RPA: Robotic Process Automation
RPA software lets you identify repetitive tasks that your resources are doing and re-allocate those tasks within a process through automation. RPA deals with rule based, simple, singular tasks. For example: automations of pieces of workflow (if, then statements). These tasks can be kicked off from a user or by an event. The humans on your team are freed up to do the things that require critical thinking, emotion, judgement, and communications.
In healthcare, there are many operational processes that are inefficient and could be relegated to automation. Use cases can be found in claims, call centers, IT, enrollments, revenue cycle, and the list goes on. Your end users can help to brainstorm your best opportunities for deploying RPA internally as they’re probably the repetitive tasks they hate doing.
Benefits of RPA
The benefits of RPA typically boil down to speed and accuracy. Once implemented, the robots perform the most menial and repetitive tasks quickly and without error. These tasks typically fall into one of two categories - attended and unattended. The best example of an attended task would be a call center person who must open several applications and do a customer search. You can have your robot perform multiple searches after entering the customer information only once. An unattended task is usually one that runs on a set schedule. A good example would be periodically checking for a file of data and if it exists, opening the file and using that data as input to another application.
The key takeaway is that robots are robots. You have to tell them exactly what to do, but once they’re running they can accomplish simple tasks without getting sick, tired, or making mistakes which translates to instant ROI for standardization and workflow efficiency. However, implementing RPA takes a knowledgeable team from various departments - not only to implement the base capability, but also to help implement the business processes to be automated.
Lessons Learned in RPA Implementation
Randy Sole, an IT business consultant at Presbyterian Healthcare Services - New Mexico, is working to implement RPA software in his organization. He shares some lessons learned below:
Involve IT early - they are an excellent asset to help discover how all the pieces play together
Choose use cases that are simple to tackle first
Assign someone ownership of exceptions who can improve the rules the robot follows
Work with a vendor who has experience in healthcare
Vet vendors based on use cases they can support that benefit you immediately
Lucro has seen five RPA requests for information in the past 6 months in healthcare. Here are some companies that consistently come out on top*:
RPA can benefit your healthcare organization. We’ve prepared a jumpstart guide to kick off your vendor selection. Inside, you’ll find an objective statement, key stakeholders to include, full vendor lists, and high level requirements to consider. Use the info to set up a project in Lucro and you’ll be already up on your research and vendor vetting.