Antony Edwards, COO of Eggplant, discusses how hospitals are using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to help medical staff from patient care to security.
Hospitals have a huge collection of systems and processes, and their IT teams are often underfunded and piled with work. If systems go wrong, the outcome can be catastrophic. From security attacks like May 2017’s WannaCry ransomware to algorithm failures with breast cancer screenings, keeping systems and processes running is critical for hospitals.
From patient record trafficking and aftercare, ensuring that staff have the right credentials and access rights to monitoring, and enforcing IT security measures, hospital IT teams are spinning a lot of plates. With the lives of patients on the line, the small tasks are just as important as the larger ones.
So, how can technology help to reduce the pressure on IT teams? Although computers can already automate themselves, many medical teams are turning to Robotic Process Automation (RPA)—using software to enable communication across multiple IT systems—to provide an additional level of automation and to link up the systems that are in place.
For example, computers in hospitals cover diagnostic machines, patient machines, and patient records, among others. RPA can link these processes and consequently add in layers of automation to handle and process different requests and workflows. It can be helpful to a variety of industries, but how is RPA currently being used in the healthcare industry?
In terms of hospital software and systems, security is paramount. With a number of medical staff joining and leaving throughout the year, ensuring that past employees are unable to access hospitals systems is vital. RPA can be enforced too check that past employees have been removed from all systems, and no longer have access. For example, RPA can automatically use their login credentials for each application to ensure they have been fully removed.
Apply security patches
In addition to checking the accessibility of login credentials, RPA can also be used to automatically apply security patches to each server, and can verify that the patch has been successfully applied. In addition to this, RPA can also be used in conjunction with software testing to test each security patch, and to alert the medical staff through a secure email or text if a problem arises.
Patient security is also of high importance for hospitals and medical institutions. Because of this, RPA has the capability to securely move sensitive dermatology images from encrypted hard drives to a vendor-neutral archive without a human viewing the images. This allows patients’ privacy to be respected, with no need for human intervention or access.
However, it’s not just security measures that RPA can be applied to in hospitals. RPA can also help medical staff to automate important administrative tasks. For example, adding new employees to the system from a spreadsheet to ensure proper access and credentials are granted the first time. In US hospitals, RPA can also be used to ensure that the appropriate charge is allocated to the right patient, for the appropriate cost, and balanced against the correct general ledger number.
However, it isn’t just IT teams that are involved in the RPA and testing process, as hands-on medical teams are also a crucial part of the process. By automating processes and systems, hospital staff can reclaim valuable time to focus on the human element of looking after patients and are safe in the knowledge that hospital processes are being managed securely. With an under-funded NHS, RPA can give hospitals the long-term solution and efficiencies to provide better patient care, speed, and document control.