How Robotic Automation Can Transform Healthcare Organizations (Arab Health Magazine)
Article written by Thierry Petrens, Managing partner, Kleptika for Arab Health magazine – September 2016.
Robotic Automation is a key enabler to increase efficiency (in terms of both operations and costs) and in the healthcare sphere that means allowing staff more time to focus on caring for patients and improving the experience of members.
The global healthcare industry is facing the huge challenge of creating new models of care based on patient-focused strategies and enabled by innovative technologies, in order to achieve higher quality at lower costs. This requires a dramatic effort from all the stakeholders involved, whether they are practitioners, administrators or customer representatives.
Robotic Automation, both on a server Processing level (RPA) and on Desktop level (RDA), gives healthcare providers the opportunity to rationalize front, middle and back office processes, by freeing up resources, time and capital. Tedious repetitive tasks are transferred from human to software “bots”, which also have the capability to add logic as required.
Even if some administrative tasks require a cognitive decision, the huge majority of them – such as copy-pasting data from one application to another, opening multiple interfaces to have a unified view of the patient, or renaming and storing documents in a formatted way – require little thought.
80% of practitioners ask for unification of patient data across the multiple systems they are using
Robotics Automation is a revolution in software, that is particularly suited to healthcare processes such as claims and billing management, where a huge number of agents are working on them manually. Every resource follows a standard operating procedure, which is made up of a series of data reading, decisions or business rules, and the actions done by using a mouse and keyboard. Robotic Automation is doing exactly the same: it is the third hand of an employee, supporting him by reading the data, taking decisions and then acting accordingly.
Another big advantage of Robotic Automation is that there are no system changes required: no need to develop complex APIs that become obsolete when there is an upgrade of the system version the API is integrating to. Robotic Automation is interfacing at the user level just as the usual employee does; this means that security and confidentiality remain the same.
Reaping the benefits
Robotic Automation is mostly perceived as a way to decrease the need for human labour, reduce handling time and response time, or quickly interface with existing systems that have a valuable impact on the bottom line. But it also brings many other benefits, mostly when used in Desktop Automation: here it allows a healthcare facility to create an adaptive interface that gives a 360-degree view of the patient, and proposes appropriate support to the employee in the context of the individual patient’s needs.
Robotic Automation also offers the ability to continuously monitor business processes, as well as staff behaviour as part of those processes. That monitoring of patterns and events gathered through machine observation can then be used to implement future improvements or for quality monitoring purposes.
Each step in a business process is fully tracked and documented within the system that is being automated. This makes a company become more compliant with industry, audit or governmental authority regulations, which has a huge impact in healthcare, where operations are highly regulated by strict compliance guidelines. On top of that, robotic automation is capable of eliminating almost any processing error, allowing a high accuracy level.
Freeing employees from tedious, repetitive tasks will increase their overall productivity: they can work on more value-added activities that involve personal interaction, problem solving, and decision making. It helps the front office agents to be more proactive with patients, while benefiting from contextual guidance to propose additional information or services relevant to them. All that contributes to better employee satisfaction, thus better productivity and retention rates.
When it comes to healthcare, one of the biggest advantages of robotic automation is the scope of its usability across various processes, and its ability to complete a variety of tasks; it excels at operating multi-step tasks across multiple systems. To validate if a task can benefit from automation, it has to be definable, repeatable, and rules-based. Once it is the case, the agility of the solution allows companies to be creative in the tasks they choose to automate, and also to test new scenarios quickly and easily.
Implementing the model
So what is the best approach to ensure a successful implementation?
A pilot is a great way to maximise your budget and provide executives with the information they need to make decisions about the implementation of robotic automation. In essence: identify the opportunity, validate it, design the mode, and deploy the pilot.
Listed below are a few key items organizations need to keep in mind when they select an automation process:
Select a process (or its sub-process) which uses a higher amount of resources.
Little or no dependency on other groups or departments (for approvals, emails, etc.) as part of the process.
Low to medium complexity process – Number of applications Involved, business rules, and exceptions. Choosing the most complex process for an initial automation may not always be a good idea since you are trying to prove the automation case within a defined constraints of environment, budget, and timelines.
Simple Process – To show agility, speed of development and deployment
Integrated Process – Multiple applications (2 or 3 max) or input source (Excel, Files, Databases, etc.) to highlight the available features of the solution.
Define success criteria up front and set expectations with parties involved.
Identify resources needed for implementation.
Plan to democratize automation in other departments.
Develop best practices and challenge the norm.
Robotic Automation can be applied to most of the hospital’s core processes:
Claims administration: claims processing, adjudication, payment complaints, compliance to regulation, insurance integration, reconciliation
Patient management: eligibility, enrollment, billing, benefit management, patient support
Provider management: data management, contracting audits, credentialing, network management
Health & care management: population health and wellness, utilization management, care coordination and case management, patient remote monitoring & tracking
HR: payroll, administration
Other: reporting, data analysis
Robotic automation plays a major role in making hospital procedures more efficient, whatever process is involved by delivering the fundamental capabilities of speed and accuracy. Because it delivers an efficient, affordable, agile and innovative approach to core processes, hospital staff can focus on providing patients with the care they deserve and expect from today’s organizations in an increasingly competitive environment.
Robotic Automation is the next revolution, and it is already here.
Case study: AG2R La Mondiale (French healthcare group of companies, managing 28,5 millions of members)
When faced with the challenge of deploying a new data-processing application, imposed by French regulation, while bringing more comfort and productivity to the agents, AG2R La Mondiale chose Contextor, a Robotic Desktop Automation solution, to robotize complex and tedious management acts.
Even when a tool already provides agents with a single entry point – offering them a global view of each customer – the challenge still exists in automating all the necessary time-consuming tasks during complex calls; for example, accessing more detailed data in the back-office. This is why it was beneficial to use an RDA solution, which automatically carries these tasks out, as opposed to being carried out manually by the agents.
The implementation resulted in real-time access to detailed data without having to “touch” the IT systems. In approximately 80 days, no less than thirty scenarios were developed, such as complex data retrieval, build and display of user interfaces, etc.
By robotizing certain tedious management acts, the processing time for each agent decreased from 30 seconds to 6 seconds on average. This largely improved their work comfort while boosting their productivity, and the quality of the customer relationship as regards to speed, relevance and active listening time.
Main benefits of Robotic Automation