Too many tasks, too little time: Robotic process automation can help

This is the third article series As the healthcare industry begins to stand out from the challenges of the pandemic, we focus on process-based opportunities.As in Introduction to this series, Each of these articles will define a problem, consider the problem and its impact on healthcare, and then propose potential solutions.

At the beginning of this series, I wrote about clinician burnoutThe two main factors are that people have to perform a large number of bureaucratic tasks, and they have to spend too much time on work in order to accomplish everything.

This does not only apply to clinicians-this story also applies to employees throughout the medical organization, whether they are engaged in management, medical records, accounting, claims management, etc.

Employees usually have too many tasks to do in a limited time because they are caught in a process that contains a lot of wasteful, monotonous, manual activities. There are several process improvement solutions to this problem, but in this article, I want to explore how the application of robotic process automation can help.

No, I do not recommend that you replace your labor with robots.

When people think of robots, they usually think of a machine that is approximately the size and shape of a human and imitates our actions and tasks, or a small vehicle that drives around and performs a single task.

Robotic process automation is not these things. In fact, it is usually invisible and works in your computer system and database, but it has the potential to have a significant positive impact on the efficiency and efficiency of your employees and your organization.


Many of the tasks we perform in healthcare are tedious and repetitive, resulting in hours of data entry, and staff often re-enter existing data and can be retrieved elsewhere in the system.

For example, this is usually the reason for such a long delay between submitting a claim to the payer and receiving payment. Medical staff also spend a lot of unnecessary time extracting information from medical databases and clinical documents for public health reports.

We also let our external customers experience this tedious version, allowing them to spend their precious time in call center arranging appointments, requesting supplementary prescriptions or obtaining necessary medical or procedural information, and not simplifying this process will also affect employees. time.

Another problem is that humans who perform repetitive, monotonous tasks are more prone to errors than computer robots, and computer robots can work around the clock without sleep, water, food or office space.

These are just a few of the countless examples of wasting time and energy on mundane tasks that have a negative impact on employee morale, external customer satisfaction, and the bottom line of healthcare organizations.

Impact on healthcare

Significantly reducing the productivity of our human resources on monotonous tasks means that we also lose money and competitive advantage in the process. RPA can solve healthcare process challenges in many areas, including billing and compliance, electronic health records, clinical documents, financial systems, patient scheduling, and many areas where internal and external customers participate.

The rewards can be huge.According to a Deloitte Global RPA Survey, Organizations have seen the return on investment of RPA in less than 12 months, and robots account for an average of 20% of the full-time equivalent capabilities of these organizations. Respondents to the survey stated that RPA met or exceeded their expectations in multiple areas, including reducing costs, improving compliance, quality/accuracy, and productivity.


Although the “robot” aspect of robotic process automation has attracted much attention, the successful implementation of RPA has focused on the people and processes that will be affected. Depending on the scale, the cost of creating and using complex robotic networks can be as high as millions of dollars, so the cost of failure and/or abandonment of effort can be high. Because failure is usually caused by insufficient preparation, let’s look at the four-stage approach to integrated RPA.

  • planning. Determine the processes to be automated and the logistical issues of implementing each process, and focus on compatibility with existing processes and systems.

  • Initial development. On the basis of the planning stage, an automated workflow is created to thoroughly select automation candidates and determine possible risks.

  • Deployment and testing. This stage involves intensive monitoring, the purpose is to find outages and errors in the product. After this stage is completed, the robot can be expanded and deployed.

  • Support and maintenance. In order to maintain its productivity, fully deployed products are continuously updated throughout the database.

The successful implementation of an RPA solution means the creation of a diverse stakeholder team, including those affected by process issues that severely hinder their productivity, their leaders, and those with technical knowledge of automated processes.

Such teams discover problems, find RPA solutions, and use the above-mentioned phased approach, which can open up unlimited possibilities for organizational improvement.

One last point: just because robots can work effortlessly around the clock and without errors does not mean that employees should be afraid of losing their jobs because of them. Computer robots do not have higher cognitive functions. They do not have strong human logic and critical thinking skills. However, these robots represent an opportunity to free up more time in the workplace for us humans to use our power to “think and think” and create time and space to complete the most important work in our organization.

Sam Hannah Is an executive in residence at an American university. Previous positions include consulting practice leader, chief strategy and innovation officer, and digital strategist at global consulting companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte. He holds a PhD in Translational Health Sciences from George Washington University and an MBA in Entrepreneurship from Babson College.

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