Join other readers who are passionate about RPA and AI.
Thank you! You're on our newsletter list.
Oops! Something went wrong. Please, try again.

How are software robots going to change the future of healthcare?

Gerald Been
minutes reading time
May 22, 2020

Robotic Process Automation brings decisiveness to digital transformation

The healthcare sector is a dynamic sector where various areas of expertise come together to keep a moving society healthy. Where the emphasis has traditionally been on treating patients, in recent years there has been a turnaround towards guiding people. This dynamic has resulted in the transformation of the classic healthcare institution into a knowledge institute (ZorgVoor2020). Technology has a major role to play here as a connector between people and information.

An example of the use of technology is software robotisation. In recent research McKinsey & Company has predicted that more than thirty percent of processes within the healthcare sector have potential for automation. This is in line with an increasing share of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) within the sector(Research and Markets). The use of so-called Software Robots makes it possible to have tasks performed on an employee's computer by a virtual employee. These software robots can be used for standardized and time-consuming tasks. One can think of:

- Data transfer between EPDs and other applications

- Registering with care institutions

- Simplify claims processes

- Scheduling patient appointments

The broader application of ICT within the sector has become more noticeable in recent years. This can be seen in an upward trend in spending within the digital domain, which last year accounted for an average of 5.7 percent of turnover within healthcare institutions (ICT Benchmark). This trend leads to challenges and calls for a critical view of the information architecture within healthcare institutions. A critical picture is needed to achieve efficiency and understanding of one's own capacities. This involves inherent complexity, because the healthcare system operates on an individual, regional and national level.

In addition, they also have to contend with a growing shortage of employees(CBS), which jeopardises the core value - the provision of qualitative care. In the Positioning Paper of the Dutch Health Insurers, one of the calls is to invest in a healthier work climate. The targeted use of digitization can play an important role in this respect in the organisation of the new organization. An example where this strongly emerges is the tackling of administrative burdens, in which employees invest an average of 35% of their time(Berenschot).

RPA as a catalyst for digital transformation

The initiative to make healthcare more digital and customer-oriented has been around for a long time, which is underlined by a large number of academic and commercial initiatives. In the current situation, there is generally a digital infrastructure in place, but a process director is being sought to link this to practice(Kreier, Verberk Jongers; 2019). The above is related to the vision from ActiZ (Vision 2019-2022); they indicate that the current rudder has to change and that it is necessary to 'transform digitally'. This does not refer to an application of e-Health, or the use of new technology. The final destination is a customer-oriented attitude, in which digital is the norm. One should think of an environment where technology unburdens and supports the process, where the role of healthcare changes to proactive anticipation instead of reactive treatment. A transition that will be pursued step by step over the next ten years.

Figure 1: Information Interoperability Adopted: Nictiz / TU Eindhoven (Sprenger, 2018)

The core of innovation in healthcare is shown in the figure above, where the dimensions of the healthcare landscape are highlighted. Through the application of robotization, the bottom layers are consolidated within an RPA environment. This stems from the possibility of using Software Robots, which can move independently between applications and information(Auth et al., 2019). Critical processes can therefore be automated within a short period of time and on a small scale. On the one hand, this connects you to the experience of employees or users and, on the other hand, provides a basis for information modelling(Van Gennip, 2019). 

In addition, the core of decision-making is placed on the care process. By identifying relevant optimizations in business processes, data can be used to argue where returns can be achieved. This reduces the distance between care and technology, which is a catalyst for a broader vision on digital transformation.

Synergy between strategy and execution

Viewed from the above perspectives, RPA offers opportunities for accelerating and giving direction to digital transformation. This is achieved by starting from small-scale processes, which have a direct impact on the experience of users. From a strategic point of view, this offers opportunities to, on the one hand, free up capacity for employees and, on the other hand, gradually gain control of technology and process.

 To achieve the long-term benefit of RPA, it is wise to start small. Experience shows that within 2 months a number of simple processes can be executed by software robots. During this period, the organization gets used to the role of robots and how they can add value. In organizations where many tasks have been taken over by RPA, people are starting to see the long term potential and are looking at applying process optimization and applying Artificial Intelligence (AI). This is in conjunction with the vision of Shahid et al. (2019), which indicates that AI has the potential to completely change healthcare. A concrete example is the support AI can offer within decision making. By looking at data from different perspectives, new insights can be generated and evaluated to inform policy. In this way the technology helps to create synergy between strategy and execution.

Gerald Been
Managing Partner
Gerald is at the helm of Node1. With his strong vision, analytical view and technological expertise, he knows how to discover and refute the bottleneck in every project. A project is only successful when both measurable and tangible improvements have been made.

Ready to digitize your company?

Send a message to
Karim van den Wijngaard
or leave your contact information.
Thank you! We got your message!
Oops! Something went wrong with sending your message.
Recommended insights
This website uses cookies to give you the best user experience. By using the website, you consent to our use of cookies. Find out more
I understand.