Half of U.S. healthcare providers will invest in robotic process automation (RPA) in the next three years, up from 5% today, according to Gartner, Inc. The heightened need to optimize costs and scarce healthcare resources during the coronavirus pandemic is providing further tailwinds to RPA adoption.
Healthcare providers are caught in a perfect storm of shrinking payments, improving outcomes, enhancing patient experience and bolstering innovation credentials. As treating and managing chronic conditions and mental health take up nearly 90% of the $3.3 trillion in U.S. healthcare spending, any technology applied to improve healthcare delivery and streamline operations will need to ensure cost optimization.
“Cost optimization is a consistently recurring theme among healthcare providers,” said Dr. Anurag Gupta, research vice president at Gartner. “The money that RPA saves by not having to spend as much on an unreformed process translates into cash that is available for front-end clinical functions, which is especially important while healthcare organizations combat the COVID-19 crisis.
“Even prior to the virus outbreak, 41% of healthcare provider CIOs experienced a funding shortfall, according to the 2020 Gartner CIO Survey. The early promise of RPA is to help reduce these operating cost pressures that sit on the top of healthcare provider CIOs’ list of challenges,” said Dr. Gupta.
RPA is a combination of user interface recognition technologies and workflow execution that mimics the mouse-clicks and keystrokes of a human to drive applications and execute system-based work. Healthcare providers are utilizing the technology for non-vertical-specific tasks, such as staffing an IT help desk as well as critical vertical-specific tasks, such as physician credentialing or verifying insurance eligibility.
By automating simpler routine tasks, RPA can not only optimize costs and outputs, but also enable healthcare resources to focus on higher value tasks. In a Gartner survey of 161 finance executives on May 3, 2020, nearly a quarter of finance executives anticipated more spending on RPA during coronavirus to drive cost optimization.
Virtual Assistants and AI Cloud Services Could Also Lead Organizations to Positive Growth
RPA is but one emerging AI technology that is helping healthcare delivery organizations. By 2023, 20% of all patient interactions will involve some form of AI enablement within clinical or nonclinical processes, up from less than 4% today.
The need to unlock the hidden insights in patient data and enable better decision making is also driving the demand for AI cloud services, which is why more than one-third of all healthcare workloads will be in the cloud by 2023. Using cloud-based AI, healthcare providers can predict upcoming patient needs and identify optimum interventions, before the patient’s condition starts deteriorating. Cloud-based as-a-service solutions have become the preferred strategy for CIOs who need to innovate while controlling costs by converting capital expenditure (capex) outlays to operating expenditures (opex).
“This strategy offers healthcare providers better leverage to spend on higher-value objectives, such as evidence-based decision-making capabilities that solve business problems and challenges like the coronavirus pandemic,” said Dr. Gupta.
Gartner clients can read more in “Emerging Technologies and Trends Impact Radar: Artificial Intelligence in U.S. Healthcare Delivery Organizations.”
Learn more about how to lead organizations through the disruption of coronavirus in the Gartner coronavirus resource center, a collection of complimentary Gartner research and webinars to help organizations respond, manage and prepare for the rapid spread and global impact of COVID-19.