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Start by automating low hanging fruits, then scale up slowly

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Naina Narwate, RPA specialist, JK Technosoft explains to Akanki Sharma how integrating Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools into the healthcare system will help save valuable time of highly trained staff that then be focused on caring for patients, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic

How can Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools be integrated into the existing healthcare system in India for better services, especially during this coronavirus crisis?

With the COVID-19 crisis, both government as well as healthcare providers are facing serious challenges in managing the large amount of data to track, test and report, as new cases raising day by day.The main challenge is the manual transfer of data throughout systems used to manage the patient journey and can be onerous, time-consuming and lead to errors and delays.

This is where RPA in healthcare came very handy for tasks like registering patients, data entering, checking for previous medical history, test results, appointment scheduling, billing, etc. All these tasks that usually take at least 20-30 minutes for a human assistant, it’s a few seconds task for an RPA bot. Bots or digital workers imitate the actions of a human assistant to carry out the processes without any human interaction and can be integrated into the existing system without major infrastructural changes. RPA can easily be integrated with any kind of applications and websites.

Integrating RPA with the healthcare system will help save valuable time of the highly trained staff that should be focused on caring for patients, which is more needed in this crisis where hospitals are filled with patients and human care is very much valued to boost patient satisfaction and interaction levels.

While RPA offers a lot of benefits, it is equally important to automate processes in the correct way by identifying the right candidate for automation and establishing the integration between the healthcare systems and its users.

Share a few examples with us where RPA is being implemented for an improved healthcare structure within India as well as abroad.

The fast-changing healthcare environment is pushing healthcare organizations to embrace innovative approaches. Nowadays, there are many use cases, where we find that RPA solutions have made the healthcare structure, function seamlessly.

JK Technosoft’s association with its clients in the healthcare domain has helped them empowers the journey of process automation, thereby, optimising workforce productivity. We have provided solutions to a leading Indian drug manufacturer by automating employee on-boarding process, finance and billing related processes, and also working on little HR- related automation which help the organisations cope with the current situation of employee scarcity. Not only in India but JKT is also contributing to US healthcare providers by automating various complex and time-consuming processes.

RPA has made a significant mark in the management of multiple healthcare processes, stating below few examples:

  • RPA solutions can be used to facilitate the management of online appointment scheduling for healthcare professionals as well as patients. It manages the whole process of appointment scheduling by getting the most convenient time, cost, doctor availability and other issues when booking appointments for patients and also notifying to the patients when their appointment is cancelled. Hospitals like Apollo and Fortis have come up with cognitive and intelligent automation capabilities to cater to the patients’ needs during the COVID-19 situation.
  • Many hospitals globally are opting for RPA robots to automate reporting COVID-19 test results, wherein robots log into the hospital’s system, apply the correct disease code, and input the test result.
  • The procurement departments of hospitals are deploying bots to balance the order and inventory in real-time, as nowadays hospitals are buying an influx of medical supplies to meet the huge demand for COVID related care. The automation helps in releasing the stress of the procurement staff by assuring the on-time delivery of medical supplies to the correct hospital storeroom.

What is the current market scenario for RPA in Indian healthcare as compared to other countries?

Since we have entered an accelerated phase of digital transformation, RPA continues to bloom not only in India but globally.As per a study conducted by McKinsey, the healthcare sector had a 36 per cent technical potential for automation.  It also stated robotic process automation as one of the emerging technologies that will reshape healthcare and create between $350 billion and $410 billion in annual value by 2025.

According to the Forrester research firm, the global market for RPA services will hit $7.7 billion in the year 2020 and is expected to grow to $12 billion in 2023. RPA finds a significant interest in the healthcare sector in North America and Europe. Automation is likely to increase in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific during the period 2020-2026 to exceed $300 million revenue by 2025 as per a report by Infoholic Research.

However, as per the Research and Markets reports, the RPA market in India is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20 per cent from 2019-2025. Though, the Indian market lags behind North America and European regions, as per the reports, but still the Indian subcontinent region is weighed as a favourite destination for RPA market growth in the near future as many RPA vendors are planning to enter and establish themselves in the Indian market.

RPA in the healthcare sector is driven by increasing demand for many aspects like improving the treatment cycle, speeding up the account settlement process, effective claim management, simplifying patient appointment scheduling and many more and, RPA vendors are focusing on building best intelligent automation bots to deal with dynamic business scenarios.

In a country like ours, how feasible is it to implement RPA in the healthcare segment? How do frontline healthcare workers see it?

The healthcare industry in any country is one of the largest sectors when it comes to employment and revenue generation.

More than 40 per cent of employees reported they spend at least 1/4 of their workweek on repetitive duties, and 59 per cent say they could save six or more hours a week if those tasks are automated, according to Smartsheet Automation in the workplace report.

In contradiction to the idea that automation will replace humans, the RPA revolution is taking place in India at an unprecedented scale, but still, the need for humans exists and is valued as much as it was before. With the proper knowledge and information transfer, we can let the employees understand that RPA is here to work with humans, to help reduce the unproductive work hours, so they can concentrate on tasks that require a human touch and improve the patient care quality. And, we must embrace the fact that the new structure of workforce design will be more like where humans and robots work together.

As per the study by Silver Touch Technologies, more than 33 per cent of the staff are expressing the happy hours as bots are taking care of their mundane work. During this pandemic situation, when the employees of the healthcare sector have many tasks that involve physical contact with corona patients, their safety is a major concern.  Thus, it is highly recommended to delegate the work to bots to manage the processes with safety and security. In addition, many healthcare organisations have nowadays taken a step forward to combine RPA with AI in order to reach the next level of medical advancements.

Has RPA led to any innovation anywhere in the healthcare industry?

Innovation unlocks the new, better and more effective ways of solving a challenge that will result in delivering improved healthcare services and would help the organisation navigate the unpredictable future. Development in healthcare should aim at providing agile solutions and enhancements in healthcare framework, technologies, services, and delivery methods.

In this era of digital disruption and cut-throat competition, the organisations are adopting automation in order to deal with dynamic business situations and innovate in the competitive space. RPA has helped improve the existing healthcare processes and tasks to be handled and managed, in an efficient way as well. The RPA can be used in all segments of the healthcare domain. RPA technology with cognitive automation introduces a new perspective on healthcare innovation. We can achieve wonderful business results when people, bots and, AI are used in conjunction with one another. Intelligent RPA with human collaboration is revolutionising medical imaging and diagnostics, research & development, patient-centricity by accelerating process innovation and creating new standards for the healthcare industry.

Tell us how JK Technosoft’s business has been flourishing by investing in the Indian healthcare industry and what is your strategy for revolutionising this sector in the upcoming days?

Owing to the current pandemic situation, we at JK Technosoft have seen a rise in interest for automation from our Indian as well as global customers. This is mainly because of the reduced physical workforce at the site and high demand of healthcare professionals due to increased inflow of patients, leading to scarcity of medicines, medical devices and delays in processing tests, delivering reports and on-boarding patients, etc. So, more and more healthcare companies are targeting to automate their mundane work like patient on-boarding, appoint scheduling, bills and invoice processing, etc. with the use of Robotic and Intelligent process automation.

Our aim is to create a seamless and omni-channel experience for our customers. We work collaboratively with our customers to select the best processes for automation. We help them in setting a roadmap and choosing the right tool based on the customer’s unique needs and accordingly implementing the process automation. We encourage our customers to identify all the pain areas and check their automation feasibility.  We recommend our customers to start with their automation journey by automating the low hanging fruits first and scaling up slowly.

JKT believes in starting small and scaling big, we at JK Technosoft analyse and identify the best fit process for automation based on cost-benefit analysis, propose re-engineering of the processes as necessary and create a standard procedure for the organisations to scale it in order to achieve maximum benefits.

What are the challenges faced while implementing RPA in healthcare institutions, and how are these overcome?

The most common challenges faced during RPA implementations are as below –

  • Identifying the right processes for automation to yield more benefits

Not all processes can be automated completely. Understanding organisations’ RPA needs, identifying the right processes for automation that are high voluminous, repetitive and yield more ROI is an important and challenging task.

  • Employee on boarding

This is one of the biggest challenges in any RPA implementation because employees fear to adopt new changes and shift in their responsibilities. Sometimes, it is the incomplete knowledge that leads to believing that RPA is here to replace humans leads to their reluctant behaviour in helping smooth RPA implementation.

  • Change management

Implementation of RPA requires some changes in the infrastructure of an organisation. RPA team gets support from IT and Business departments in case of authentication issues and access rights. Frequent communication from higher management to the executive is needed to ensure employees are aware of what is expected from them.

  • Limited application

Processes that may involve handwritten document scanning or human intervention to take decision based on which the process will continue further.

With the above-mentioned challenges, it may reflecta tough job to implement RPA, but with the proper training and knowledge transfer, overcoming employee resistance and change management is not difficult. Employees with knowledge about both business and technology will help them to identify the right automation process. Companies can quickly overcome this initial challenge and can recognise new applications and processes for RPA and scale automation within their enterprise.

There is no denying the fact that despite obstacles during implementation, RPA implementation is the easiest task in the latest technology accompanied by ease of development.

 

 

 

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