Healthcare Automation: The Secret Impact of AI in Medicine

August 13, 2021
Image of a doctor analyzing X-ray scans from a broken bone.

When Artificial Intelligence (AI) is discussed in the world of healthcare and medicine, many people automatically think of robots performing ground-breaking surgery. While there is no doubt that AI is directly impacting medical treatment, it is also proving invaluable behind the scenes. These may not be headline-grabbing actions compared to a robot performing brain surgery, but they are just as impactful. So, what do AI and Cognitive Process Automation (CPA) have to offer the healthcare industry?

AI at the cutting-edge of healthcare

Before we look at some of the everyday tasks that our Cognitive Process Automation can help with behind the scenes, it is worth reminding ourselves of the cutting-edge element of this technology. This includes:

• More accurate diagnosis

• Development of new medicines

• Personalized healthcare plans

• Mining and analyzing healthcare data

• Assistance with ground-breaking operations

• Revolutionary equipment such as hearing aids

This is only a snapshot of the cutting-edge of AI technology in healthcare and specifically treatment and diagnosis. However, before patients and doctors can get to this stage, there are several more "mundane" tasks to complete. They may not grab the headlines, they may not be seen as cutting-edge, but they are an integral element of the healthcare industry.

What are the critical areas of healthcare automation?

You will hear an array of terms concerning AI and healthcare automation, including:

• Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

• Cognitive Process Automation (CPA)

• Artificial Intelligence (AI) bots

However, the term that best describes AI use with regards to non-front line healthcare automation is Digital Coworkers. This is precisely what they are. Digital employees that can be trained and, more importantly, learn from their experiences, improving efficiencies and cost savings. So, what are the critical areas associated with healthcare automation?

Administrative work

Administrative work is often undervalued, but this is the bedrock of patient treatment. If information is missing, inaccurate or incomplete, this can have a significant impact on patient well-being. Inefficient administration can also create numerous bottlenecks, which translate into both time and cost pressures. A survey published in The American Journal of Medicine highlighted the considerable burden on physicians, leading to burnout and preventable medical errors.

Employee schedules

When dealing with time-critical diagnosis and treatment requirements, employee schedules must be as efficient as possible. Using Digital Coworkers, algorithms and on-the-job learning help to shape perfect employee shift schedules. However, it is not just the initial schedules that maximize time and efficiency, but also the speed at which plans can be revised at short notice.

Many of us fail to realize that missing an appointment with our physician can have a considerable knock-on effect on other areas of the system, increasing time and cost wastage. While initial algorithms used to create employee schedules are extremely powerful, AI technology allows Digital Coworkers to learn from their experiences.

Patient scheduling

In a similar fashion to employee schedules, it is essential to optimize patient meetings with their physician and any treatment required. Digital Coworkers can take into account a whole range of different factors to optimize patient scheduling. Historically, physician burnout has been a significant problem leading to operations being cancelled and huge backlogs.

Allowing Digital Coworkers to manage patient scheduling removes a heavy element of administration and has been shown to reduce physician/employee burnout. In addition, this creates a positive knock-on effect on patient mortality, preventable medical errors, and medical negligence insurance claims.

Deciphering medical notes

The handwriting of doctors/physicians has long been a mystery to many of us, often preventing the use of Automated Character Recognition (ACR) software. However, the use of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR), integrated within your Digital Coworker, has had a considerable impact when deciphering medical notes. Automated data extraction has never been easier!

We can build and train your Digital Coworkers at Roots Automation to deliver a 95% straight-through processing rate, and even higher accuracy rates. This unprecedented level of accuracy is higher than even humans can perform, and has been a game-changer for many healthcare practitioners. When you also consider the impact of Natural Language Processing (NLP), and the ability to understand human language, it is not difficult to see the long-term benefits.

Medical claims

One of the chief bottlenecks for the medical insurance industry has been a lack of claims adjusters due to unprecedented demand. While ACR has been in use for many years, our AI bots go much further, taking in tasks such as:

• Complex data extraction

• Automated data entry

• Retrieval of additional data

• Checks for potential fraud

• Processing of claims payments

Fraud continues to be a massive issue for the US insurance industry, estimated to cost more than $40 billion a year. While automated data extraction and entry is hugely helpful in itself, the ability to automate the entire claims processing system while checking for fraud has proved invaluable.

See also: Helping a Company Grow, A Case Study

What is the impact of automation in healthcare?

There are many factors to consider concerning automation in healthcare. Individually they have a significant impact, but collectively they continue to reshape the industry. The main areas impacted include:

• Improved accuracy in diagnosis

• Elimination of human error

• Huge cost and time savings

• Reduced pressure on administrators/physicians

Physician burnout has been a significant problem for the healthcare industry for some time, and the issue is challenging. Using Digital Coworkers, it is now possible to remove a considerable element of the administrative burden from administrators and physicians. This allows your medical staff to focus on front-end services with the confidence that AI bots are in complete control of the more mundane administration tasks.

Confidence is the key

In reality, OCR and NLP technology have been around for some time but are still in their relevant infancy. Aside from considerable developments in technology, there is one significant difference between their involvement today and that of yesteryear: confidence. A lack of confidence in years gone by led to increased checking and all but eliminated their headline benefits.

More complex algorithms, real-time learning, and Digital Coworkers created with specific skills have revolutionized the industry. If we drill down deeper, there are four main areas of the healthcare industry which are benefiting most from enhanced automation:

Human resources

This takes in employee recruiting, employee onboarding, company benefits, help desk services and shift scheduling.

Data-processing

Enhanced automation processes have improved patient data entry, patient data management, data analysis, and invoices managing.

Medical claims

Data extraction, data entry, document review, document organization and general communications with claimants and other third parties have seen huge improvements.

General ledger management

Automatic input, allocating to relevant ledgers, comparing transactions and ledgers, intercompany reconciliations, and creating financial reports have certainly benefited from the involvement of Digital Coworkers.

Building solid foundations

While the automated procedures and processes detailed above may not be as headline-grabbing as robots performing complex surgery, they are just as important. These are the building blocks that create the foundations from which these ground-breaking technologies will benefit. In addition, the ability to incorporate Digital Coworkers, trained to carry out an array of procedures and learn from their experiences, is impressive in itself.

Digital Coworkers built, trained, and implemented by Roots Automation also benefit from a new emerging factor: continuous learning. Historically there was a lack of confidence in AI-controlled processes, which effectively nullified the practical and financial benefits. Today, we see AI bots able to learn on the job, adapt to their environment, and work 24/7 at full optimization.

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Artificial Intelligence and automation can be difficult to conceptualize.

Access our on-demand demo and watch as a Digital Coworker learns to underwrite an insurance policy, eventually reaching a 95% straight-through processing rate.
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