As a healthcare business professional, what are the biggest benefits of intelligent process automation to your business? If you have never considered that question, then you may be missing out on a myriad of potential benefits. The use cases for it in healthcare businesses are seemingly endless. Given that these technologies are ideal for processes that are high-volume and similar every time, the healthcare industry, with its wide variety of administrative tasks taking up valuable human time, is a prime candidate to leverage the power of automation.
In this article, we will dive into the details of some of the more common intelligent process automation technologies and 3 specific benefits intelligent process automation can bring to the healthcare businesses.
Explaining process automation & RPA
Before we dive into the specific benefits intelligent process automation can bring to your healthcare business, let’s dive into some of the nuts and bolts of process automation and RPA (Robotic Process Automation).
What is process automation?
Process automation is as simple as the title suggests—a process done automatically, not by a human being but by computer software that does not get tired, frustrated, and doesn’t need to sleep, drink or eat. Processes that become automated require less human involvement and certainly less human time to execute to its utmost efficiency.
Robotic process automation
One of the most apt examples of process automation and its benefit to a healthcare business is Olive’s Robotic Process Automation. Olive utilizes RPA to automate cyclical and time-consuming tasks that are rule-based and trigger-driven, freeing your staff from enduring countless hours of productivity that could have been better applied elsewhere in your business’ developments.
Now we’re sure when you hear the word “robotic”, you might immediately think about Rosie from the Jetsons, who performed menial house tasks as a robot made for a futuristic cartoon family from the Hannah Barbera cartoons, or, if you would like a more modern example, the Transformers who can transform into vehicles or other machinery assist human beings in various ways. Those aren’t the types of robots we’re talking about here.
Robots exist in other forms in technology, as detailed by Olive’s blog that also touches upon robotic process automation. These technologies can consist of soft-bots, a computer program that acts on behalf of another user or program, or sensor networks, a group of spatially separated and dedicated sensors that monitor and record an environment’s physical conditions and organize the data collected at a vital location.
Oftentimes, RPA is considered the simplest form of Artificial Intelligence and is therefore used in business practices that require little skill. RPA specifically reaps benefits by giving skilled and specialized workers the opportunity to focus all of their attention on jobs that demand full human cognition and subjective decision making.
RPA vs. cognitive automation
To put it simply, RPA takes a given set of inputs and produces a predictable, repeatable set of outputs. Not unlike a grunt or, aptly, a robot designed solely to follow instructions without freedom to think independent of its design, while other more advanced forms of intelligent automation, like cognitive automation autonomously improve in performance over time using machine learning. Machine learning is similar to humans gaining experience and figuring out more efficient ways to do things, but it is computers doing the iterating and learning instead of people. Both cognitive automation and RPA are beneficial tools for a myriad of work processes ranging from simple rule-based processes (RPA) to more complex judgement-based processes (cognitive automation).
Benefit 1: Minimize errors
In order for your organization to fire on all cylinders with maximum profitability and productivity, the main things you have to invest on are: saving time and decreasing or outright eliminating the risk of errors. Why? As they say, time is money, and errors are setbacks that can be avoided if you leverage the benefits of process automation. Software like Olive can assist healthcare organizations, hospitals, and their staff to remedy a human-made mistake or miscommunication.
To help conceptualize and quantify the benefits, let’s consider a common healthcare business process: eligibility checks. Often times, eligibility checks require a human to manually transfer data from one system to another system, and then make a decision (or have one provided to them) about eligibility. This mundane, but important process is prone to typos and human error given the same data being entered multiple times into different forms and User Interfaces (UIs). It is no surprise then that technical errors cause 61% of initial medical billing denials for eligibility. By offloading this business process to Olive, healthcare organizations can benefit from a high level of automation and repeatability in executing these tasks that minimizes susceptibility to human error and typos while still enabling businesses to use existing EHRs.
Benefit 2: Enhance problem-solving capacity
Automating processes in within your organization business doesn’t simply stop at the ‘cyclical and time-consuming tasks’. Enter, intelligent automation. Intelligent Automation is what is says on the tin: software that actually thinks for you, thus is the wonder of artificial intelligence and its role in intelligent automation. It isn’t simply mind-numbing repeatable tasks with minimum human monitoring, but actual problem-solving software that can actually think independent of human guidance and assist problem-solving on every level imaginable.
As best described in Olive’s article, 3 trends to consider before AI deployment, by 2026, intelligent automation might save the US healthcare economy a total of $150 billion annually according to a recent analysis by Accenture. It’s no wonder healthcare organizations are investing in intelligent automation, powered by AI software like Olive.
It doesn’t stop at healthcare, however, we’re seeing intelligent automation overtake the workplace and our daily lives all around us, from automated tellers at banks replacing human tellers, to booking hotel rooms online without needing to speak to a live person, to letting Google Maps navigate your next drive, just to name a few.
That being said, the most astounding example of intelligent automation, may indeed lie in healthcare. AI-assisted robots, as the article further explains, are aiding surgeons with medical decision support, image analysis and diagnostics, reducing and eliminating the potential of human error by joining human and machine in order to achieve the best results possible.
Benefit 3: Free clinical staff to work on clinical tasks
Another aspect of intelligent automation is cognitive automation software, which brings intelligence to information-intensive procedures. Cognitive automation is effectively the combination of Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing. What sets cognitive automation apart is its performance of jobs that only human beings used to be able to do.
Often times, healthcare employees are bogged down with tedious administrative tasks that, while important to business, are inherently time-consuming and repetitive (e.g. insurance verification and data recording). These responsibilities can easily be outsourced to an RPA to execute in order to free up said staff so they can concentrate on tasks that humans excel at which require uniquely human skills like empathy and creativity (e.g. corresponding with patients, resolving more complex issues, etc.).
Part of cognitive automation is machine learning in order to have computing technology imitate human operations to complete tasks. While RPA is required to operate on a rule-base that limits its decision making, Cognitive automation expresses its artificial intelligence as a resource that learns as any human would in order to adapt and execute a job to its utmost efficiency, while becoming fatigued as a human being would, mind you.
How AI & automation improve healthcare
In conclusion, in the field of healthcare alone, studies have found the increase in automation processing and data recording has decreased the in-hospital mortality rate by 15% and administrations that have adopted RPA have noticed a 200% return of investment in the first year of use according to this Olive white paper. Given the power of the technology and the myriad of high-volume tasks ripe for outsourcing to an intelligent automation solution in healthcare but it’s no wonder that intelligent process automation is a problem solver and driver of profitability-growth in the industry.