The healthcare industry is expected to experience unprecedented growth within the next decade, national health spending in the U.S. is projected to increase 5.5% annually on average from 2017-2026 and healthcare’s share of the economy is expected to grow from 17.9% in 2016 to 19.7% by 2026. Additionally, healthcare consumers are demanding more comprehensive and personalized care, while healthcare organizations face reimbursement pressures as value-based care models become more pervasive throughout the industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has also placed a significant strain on healthcare organizations, providers and clinical resources.
In order to succeed in this challenging environment, providers and provider organizations must embrace new and emerging technologies that will reduce operational burdens and afford providers the time needed to focus on their patients and increasing consumer demand. Robotic Process Automation, referred to as RPA, when leveraged successfully, can help providers reduce operational cost, improve the patient experience and help providers navigate these challenging market dynamics.
Why Robotic Process Automation?
RPA is the deployment of digital robots that perform high-volume, repeatable tasks which previously required substantial human intervention. Shifting these repetitive tasks and processes to digital robots, frees up resources within the organization that can now re-direct their focus onto higher valued activities.
Many organizations are already making strides in implementing RPA, as evidenced by a recent Gartner study. The firm estimates that 60% of companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue deployed some form of RPA in 2018, with that expected to be up to 85% by 2022. Global spending on the technology hit $680 million in 2018 as well and is on pace to reach $2.4 billion by 2022. Several healthcare organizations have already reaped the benefits of RPA by automating repetitive processes such as claim status inquiries, patient insurance eligibility and benefit inquires and HR and supply chain processes.
Keys to Successful RPA Deployment
For RPA to succeed in a provider organization and for maximum ROI to be realized, organizations need to view RPA as a strategic initiative versus a one-time implementation. Organizations that initially automate some “quick win” processes while simultaneously implementing a RPA Center of Excellence organizational structure will succeed in leveraging RPA as a competitive advantage. The following considerations are key to ensure RPA success:
RPA initiative must be an organizational effort – As with any project that strives to achieve impactful change within an organization, successful RPA deployment requires the support and active engagement of the organization’s leadership.
Establishment of RPA Center of Excellence (CoE) is imperative – A CoE provides the structure and processes for organizations to approach RPA as a business resource. In particular, an effective RPA CoE would:
- Provide structure for evaluating potential processes for automation, ensuring processes considered have an obtainable ROI and automation is in alignment with organizational goals
- Avoid the potential for siloed and disjointed development of RPA
- Provide alignment and collaboration amongst IT staff and business resources
- Foster organizational socialization and awareness of RPA projects, alleviating fears employees typically have around automation (i.e. the bots are coming for my job!)
Approach RPA as a development project vs. implementation – Although most hospital’s internal IT staff may be very skilled in the testing and implementation of packaged software, successful software development requires skills, tools and techniques that many healthcare providers may not have experience with. Successful RPA project teams can rapidly develop and deploy new automation within a matter of weeks to end-users. Agile methodologies work well for RPA projects. Prior experience with agile and lean process design will be an asset for organizations embarking on RPA.
Identification of RPA benefits and ROI – All processes in consideration for automation must be properly vetted with ROI and potential realized benefits clearly defined. This analysis will inform decisions on which processes should move forward with automation. Organizations also need to have the flexibility to change course and adjust if or when changes to selected automation processes are discovered; having CoE processes in place will assist with moving RPA projects along when roadblocks or changes occur.
Working with providers to view RPA as a strategic business resource allows organizations to address both the shift to value-based care and increasing consumerism as the consumer demands are rapidly rising for comprehensive and personalized care.
emids has developed a five-step RPA Center of Excellence charter to drive a systemic change by utilizing RPA comprehensive strategies. Our RPA engineers and domain experts provide clients with strategic offerings along with a seamless experience to combat industry challenges and enhance their business outcomes.
With the right combination of tools and new processes at the right time, providers can quickly address pain points and develop long-term strategies to reach the full potential of RPA.
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