Robotic process automation in healthcare: A robot’s hand holds a hospital.

What is Robotic Process Automation? (And How Can Healthcare Facilities Use RPA?)

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

What is Robotic Process Automation?

(And How Can Healthcare Facilities Use RPA?)

Posted on Monday, July 13, 2020

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the use of software robots, also known as “bots,” to automate repetitive, human-based processes.

Robotic process automation is a means of achieving business process automation (BPA), which is the digital transformation, streamlining, and proactive management of organizational workflows.

Benefits of Robotic Process Automation


RPA is easy to implement because software robots interact directly with other software applications and websites using the existing user interface provided. The robot will log in to the application, navigate the user interface, populate fields, respond to prompts, capture results, and perform the same operations a human user would. Through assigned business rules, software robots can adapt to special use cases and outliers to handle virtually any scenario or work process.

Software robots take on the redundant, manual tasks usually completed by human users, which:
  • Enables staff to focus on higher-level objectives and interactions with patients.
  • Helps facilities better allocate resources and repurpose FTEs.
  • Lowers operational costs; using software robots is more affordable than hiring, training, housing, and paying humans to do the same work.
  • Increases efficiency; bots work 24/7 and more quickly than humans.
  • Improves accuracy; the opportunity for human error is significantly reduced.
  • Enhances data analytics; analyzing bots’ actions over humans’ is not only more precise, but robots can also be used to automate data analysis.
  • Facilitates HIPAA compliance; all bot activity is tracked and documented.
  • Strengthens security; RPA follows all protocols/permissions for a normal user and meets the facility’s data integrity rules/conditions, plus removes risks tied to updates from external sources (e.g. vendors, business partners).
  • Requires minimal IT support and participation.

Robotic Process Automation in Healthcare


Robotic process automation in healthcare: A robot’s hand holds a hospital.

Is “RPA” in Your Site’s DNA?

Bots can be deployed fully automated in an unattended configuration or utilized interactively. An interactive version may allow some human responses while automating other redundant activities.

Here are just a few areas where you can use robotic process automation in healthcare:
  • Order transcription
  • High-volume data entry
  • Cash posting
  • Credentialing
  • Benefits verification
  • Prior authorization
  • Interactions with payer websites and clearinghouses
  • Claims and appeals
  • Progress note reporting
  • Vendor integration
  • Interoperability challenges

Is “RPA” in Your Site’s DNA?


RPA delivers a substantial return on investment and is essential to the future of healthcare organizations and the ways in which they operate.

HealthWare Systems can evaluate your workflows and user activities to identify and automate redundant actions. Contact us today to learn how we can help you apply RPA to your processes and experience the benefits at your healthcare facility.

Download our Robotic Process Automation Product Sheet.


By Stephanie Salmich

Business process automation in healthcare.

What is Business Process Automation? (And How Can Healthcare Facilities Use BPA?)

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

What is Business Process Automation?

(And How Can Healthcare Facilities Use BPA?)

Posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Business process automation (BPA) is the digital transformation of organizational workflows. BPA utilizes technology to automate manual, repetitive, routine tasks and to streamline processes. BPA applies business logic to respond to events, make information “actionable,” and anticipate next steps to proactively manage workflow.

Benefits of Business Process Automation

Business process automation enables organizations to assign their valuable time and employees’ skill sets to other objectives while technology takes care of the monotonous, time-consuming, and routine operations for them.

In addition to time, BPA saves organizations money. It is a cost-effective way to increase efficiency and speed up workflow. Plus, digital transformation of business procedures reduces paper usage (making processes more budget and environmentally friendly).

By limiting the opportunity for human error, BPA also improves accuracy and prevents deficiencies.

Business Process Automation in Healthcare

HealthWare SystemsFacilitator is a business process automation platform created specifically for healthcare.

Facilitator can apply BPA to the following areas that affect the healthcare revenue cycle:

Business process automation in healthcare.

Facilitator is a BPA platform built specifically for healthcare.

Pre-Arrival – prevents integrity issues that can result in technical denials or underpayments.

Prior Authorization – automates authorization requests using 278 transactions, web-crawling, fax requests, and payer portals; automatically checks status of pending authorizations; monitors status changes that affect patients’ authorized benefits.

Insurance Verification – verifies insurance in real time; identifies potential restrictions that may impact reimbursement; finds any unreported coverage by searching top regional payers.

Medical Necessity Checking – verifies medical necessity in real time; shares results with referring physician; produces ABN for patient signature; provides automated updates of LCD and NCD rules.

Financial Assistance Screening – determines the likelihood that patients will qualify for financial assistance; manages documentation requirements and selects/completes application forms based on eligibility program(s) pursued.

Appeals Management – routes denial work object to appropriate team member for resolution; generates appeal letter or form specific to payer or denial type; assembles appeals package and submits appeal; eliminates hard copies.

Release of Information – securely captures, gathers, and sends medical records; eliminates hard copies.

Electronic Medical Forms – business rules determine the correct forms needed for every patient’s specific encounter, so employees no longer need to memorize selection criteria; pre-populates forms with patient demographics.

Order/Referral Management – fast-tracks pre-registration by ensuring accurate and complete physician orders are received.

Automated Messaging – reminds patients of upcoming appointments.

And More


Is “BPA” in Your Site’s DNA? 

Business process automation is increasingly necessary for the success of today’s organizations, including those in the healthcare field. Through BPA, hospitals and health systems can streamline workflow while lowering costs, better allocating resources, and increasing accuracy.

Request a live demo to learn more about how you can transform workflow at your healthcare facility using business process automation.


By Stephanie Salmich

Reducing patient uncertainty: Healthcare providers connect puzzle pieces.

Reducing Patient Uncertainty: 6 Areas to Address

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

Reducing Patient Uncertainty: 6 Areas to Address

Posted on Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Reducing patient uncertainty should be a high priority item for healthcare providers.  Feelings of uncertainty can affect the patient experience and lower patient satisfaction.

Most of us are uncomfortable with uncertainty and many visits to healthcare facilities are made with the purpose of diminishing it.  Patients seek out your facility hoping to find answers to health questions; the last thing they are looking for is even more confusion.

Reducing patient uncertainty: Healthcare providers connect puzzle pieces.

Reducing patient uncertainty can vastly improve the patient experience.

Below are 6 areas that can either increase or decrease patient uncertainty.
By reducing patient uncertainty through addressing these areas, providers can greatly improve the patient experience:

1. – Online Presence:

A strong online presence and positive online reviews can aid in reducing patient uncertainty by helping patients become more familiar with your facility and organization before they even visit.  Utilize your website and social media accounts to their full advantage.

For example, a study published in the journal Health Communication found that video biographies for primary care physicians were more effective in reducing patient uncertainty than the standard text biographies that most providers post on their websites.

2. – Wayfinding:

Navigating their way around an unfamiliar building can increase patients’ anxiety over their hospital visit.  Wayfinding solutions (such as digital signage, mobile apps that guide patients around your campus, and touchscreen kiosks that print wayfinding maps) can ensure that patients and their visitors don’t get lost, all while reducing patient uncertainty about finding their destination.

3. – The Waiting Room:

The waiting room offers numerous opportunities for reducing patient uncertainty surrounding many topics.  In the waiting room, uncertainty about wait times can be just as frustrating as the actual waiting.  Patients’ family members face uncertainty as well, about how long they’ll be waiting, about the details of a procedure, and about the outcome for their family member.

A patient tracking board and real-time text updates can be instrumental in reducing patient uncertainty and lowering waiting room anxiety for patients’ family members.  Patients can better gauge how long they’ll be waiting, and patients’ family members know their loved one’s status at each stage (e.g. “in prep,” “in surgery,” “in recovery”) of the encounter.

4. – Interoperability:

Patients should not have to face uncertainty regarding whether their doctor has all the information he/she needs to properly care for them.  Yet, only 46% of hospitals had required patient information from outside providers or sources available electronically at the point of care according to research posted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

With odds like these, patient uncertainty about transfer of medical records or if a physician’s order/referral will be received in time is warranted.  Reducing patient uncertainty can be accomplished by ensuring your facility can electronically send, receive, find, and integrate/use all necessary health information.

5. – The Discharge Process:

Researchers have created a new tool called the Uncertainty Scale to measure patient uncertainty and predict hospital readmissions.  Some of the major themes they’ve found in their work include patients’:

  • “Lack of clarity regarding self-management, such that patients are unsure how to deal with symptoms at home”
  • “Lack of self-efficacy, manifesting as patients not knowing where to go for help for certain symptoms”
  • “Lack of clarity about the decision to seek care, meaning that patients do not know which symptoms are serious enough to warrant seeing a health professional”

Improving patient education during the discharge process can help in reducing patient uncertainty about self-care, where to seek help, and when it is necessary to seek help, as well as lower readmission rates.

6. – Payments:

Patients want price transparency and as wise healthcare consumers, they have the right to be informed about the use of their healthcare dollars.  Confusion about health insurance and how much money they owe for health services, even after they’ve received a bill, is a source of patient uncertainty.  Patients may have great clinical outcomes, yet, if they are surprised when the bill is larger than expected, their satisfaction surveys will reflect low scores.

Providing estimates for out-of-pocket costs upfront, helping patients with insurance issues, preventing insurance-related errors, and helping patients identify and apply for financial assistance opportunities can all help in reducing patient uncertainty about cost.


Uncertainty is unfortunately a common experience in healthcare for those with undiagnosed conditions and symptoms for which an explanation is unclear.  The six areas outlined here are within your control; by reducing patient uncertainty in these areas, your facility can greatly improve the patient experience.


By Stephanie Salmich

A nurse speaks with an elderly patient: Directing assistance toward at-risk patients can reduce hospital readmission rates.

8 Ways to Reduce Hospital Readmission Rates

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

8 Ways to Reduce Hospital Readmission Rates

Posted on Wednesday, May 2, 2018

There are many ways facilities can reduce hospital readmission rates while producing better health outcomes for patients and avoiding CMS reimbursement reductions.  As the study “Reducing Hospital Readmission: Current Strategies and Future Directions,” published in the Annual Review of Medicine, aptly recommends, these strategies to reduce hospital readmission rates are best used in conjunction:

“The effect of interventions on readmission rates is related to the number of components implemented, whereas single-component interventions are unlikely to reduce readmissions significantly.”

Here are 8 ways to reduce hospital readmission rates at your facility:


A nurse speaks with an elderly patient: Directing assistance toward at-risk patients can reduce hospital readmission rates.

Directing assistance toward at-risk patients can reduce hospital readmission rates.

1. – Focus on delivering quality care.  Ensure that avoidable readmissions are not due to preventable errors on the part of your facility.

2. – Determine the cause of readmission.  As RevCycleIntelligence states, “Understanding why a patient returns to the hospital after discharge is key to preventing readmissions and solving challenges of follow-up care.”  Is the reason for readmission condition-related or are other factors at play (see #3)?  Was the hospital readmission unnecessary and/or preventable?

3. – Screen for at-risk patients.  Certain conditions, such as heart failure and pneumonia, have higher hospital readmission ratesSocial factors that can affect hospital readmission include housing instability, tobacco use, alcohol/drug abuse, malnutrition and access to nutritious food, access to reliable transportation, health literacy, social support, language barriers, and psychiatric disease.  Assistance may be best directed toward patients most vulnerable to readmission.

4. – Address no-show appointment issues to encourage at-risk patients to keep the follow-up appointments that may lower their chances of hospital readmission.

5. – Improve the discharge process.  Patients and their caregivers face much uncertainty upon leaving the safety net of the hospital environment.  Take the time to thoroughly explain instructions for at-home care before they are discharged; follow-up with phone calls or home visits to again confirm their understanding and give them an opportunity to ask questions.

6. – Take advantage of telehealth opportunities.  Telehealth devices enable clinicians to monitor discharged patients’ health at home and can help reduce patients’ uncertainty about whether or not they need to revisit the hospital.

7. – Improve the transition process between facilities.  Just as when a patient is moved from the hospital to home, moving from one facility to another can result in poor health outcomes and/or readmission if the transition does not go well.  Follow one of the transitions of care models, many of which employ a care team to coordinate effective transitions and have been proven to reduce hospital readmission rates.

8. – Establish true interoperability.  Better communication (in the form of successfully and consistently electronically sending, receiving, finding, and integrating/using data) is needed between facilities for proper care transition (and even across departments within the same facility).  Without it we risk patient safety and increase the likelihood for medical errors that affect readmission rates, such as adverse drug events due to inaccurate medication reconciliation.

Reduce Hospital Readmission Rates with a Multi-Strategy Approach


Again, the most successful efforts to reduce hospital readmission rates and create better health outcomes will utilize numerous strategies.  As the study “Reducing Hospital Readmission” in the Annual Review of Medicine concluded:

“Effective interventions share certain features: having multiple components that span both inpatient and outpatient settings and delivery by dedicated transitional care personnel. New evidence suggests that the number of components in a care transitions intervention is significantly related to its effectiveness . . . which strengthens the argument for more robust interventions.”


By Stephanie Salmich

Support Your Physicians: An administrator and doctor shake hands.

Support Your Physicians by Asking These 3 Questions

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

Support Your Physicians by Asking These 3 Questions

Posted on Friday, March 30, 2018

National Doctors’ Day (March 30th) provides a great opportunity to reevaluate the steps your facility is taking to support your physicians who work so hard for you and your patients.

Support Your Physicians: An administrator and doctor shake hands.

Happy National Doctors’ Day!

Here are a few questions to consider when assessing how well you support your physicians:

 

Are You Fueling Your Physicians’ Sense of Purpose?

One of the best ways you can support your physicians is by encouraging their passion, whether it be for medicine, for helping patients and their families, for serving the community, or any other meaningful reason they have for doing the work they do.

Fostering a sense of meaning in work can improve employee engagement, reduce physician burnout, and lower employee turnover.  According to Forbes contributor David K. Williams, the secret to helping employees find meaning in work is communication:

“If leaders focus on communicating the company’s mission, and the employee’s place in the success of that mission, they can have a significant impact on the overall level of fulfillment of their employees.”

He suggests that leaders “frequently discuss the meaning of the organization” and recognize employees for their personal contribution to that meaning.

 

Are You Making Your Physicians’ Jobs Easier or More Difficult?

Physicians are extremely busy.  Is the technology you provide them helping or hindering their time management?

Time-consuming and cumbersome administrative tasks and paperwork can overwhelm physicians and distract them from the reason they became doctors in the first place:  to help patients.

Alleviate physician stress by implementing solutions that:

1. Eliminate lost physician orders

2. Facilitate the sending, receiving, finding, and integrating of critical data to achieve interoperability

3. Prevent reimbursement issues

4. Provide real-time communication across departments

Are You Investing in Your Physicians?

Do you provide opportunities for your valuable physicians to learn and grow in the vital roles they fill for your organization?  Millennial healthcare employees may especially appreciate opportunities for growth and development, continued training, and education at work.  You can also support your physicians by offering or funding mindfulness training, empathy training, and emotional support programs to help prevent or reduce physician burnout.

Again, National Doctors’ Day is TODAY (March 30th)!  Now is the perfect time to rejuvenate your commitment to support your physicians with these suggestions.  And remember to celebrate the physicians who have made a difference for you and your family by personally thanking them and honoring them each March 30th for the hard work they do all year long.


You can also find ideas for promoting other health observances throughout the year here, and a detailed calendar of this year’s health observances and recognition days here.


By Stephanie Salmich

A healthcare employee helps a patient during National Wise Health Care Consumer Month.

February is National Wise Health Care Consumer Month

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

February is National Wise Health Care Consumer Month

Posted on Friday, February 16, 2018

The American Institute for Preventive Medicine designated February as National Wise Health Care Consumer Month with the goals of empowering patients to understand their health care options and make wise health care decisions, promoting consumer wellness, and reducing health care costs.

Wise Health Care Consumers

According to their Wise Health Care Consumer Toolkit:

“Wise health care consumers:

  • Know how to choose a health care plan
  • Choose their care providers carefully and thoughtfully
  • Communicate with their health care providers
  • Are comfortable asking questions, sharing concerns and negotiating costs
  • Analyze and evaluate sources of health information
  • Practice preventive care
  • Know when to treat themselves at home
  • Understand their prescriptions and take them as directed”

National Wise Health Care Consumer Month

This month presents an opportunity to promote the ideals of a wise health care consumer to each patient and employee at your facility.

The American Institute for Preventive Medicine’s toolkit, which contains resources to help employers promote wise health consumerism, can be downloaded here.  They also provide a free Well-Being Activity Planner to help you plan wellness events.

Additionally, some of the ways you can appeal to the patient as health care consumer and help empower your patients to make wise health care decisions include:

A healthcare employee helps a patient during National Wise Health Care Consumer Month.

Empower your patients and employees to practice preventive medicine and make wise health care decisions.

This February, celebrate National Wise Health Care Consumer Month by empowering your patients and employees using the suggestions above and the resources provided by the American Institute for Preventive Medicine.

You can also find ideas for promoting other health observances throughout the year here, and a detailed calendar of this year’s health observances and recognition days here.


By Stephanie Salmich

A pharmacist fills prescriptions: Improving interoperability in healthcare can help prevent adverse drug events that affect public health and patient safety.

Interoperability in Healthcare and Its Effect on Patient Safety and Public Health

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

Interoperability in Healthcare and Its Effect on Patient Safety and Public Health

Posted on Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Interoperability in healthcare is becoming increasingly important to the patient experience, public health, and patient safety.  Patients should be able to trust that when they see multiple providers at various doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies, labs and imaging facilities, and other locations, their health information is protected, accessible, and actionable.

Yet, research posted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) found that only 26% of hospitals successfully conduct all 4 core domains (electronically sending, receiving, finding, and integrating/using key clinical information) of interoperability in healthcare.

Improving this percentage is absolutely vital to patient safety and public health.  Consider how these two categories of patient safety are affected by inadequate levels of interoperability in healthcare:

Individual Patient Safety


According to the ONC’s study, only 46% of hospitals had required patient information from outside providers or sources available electronically at the point of care and only 18% reported that their providers “often” used electronically received patient health information from outside sources when treating their patients.

Tragically, treating a patient without all necessary medical information can result in adverse drug events due to inaccurate medication reconciliation, preventable pain and suffering, life-threatening medical errors, and even death.

A pharmacist fills prescriptions: Improving interoperability in healthcare can help prevent adverse drug events that affect public health and patient safety.

Improving interoperability in healthcare can help prevent adverse drug events that affect patient safety.

At the very least, delays in access to relevant health data mean delays in treatment and extra discomfort, pain, or worry for patients and their family members as they wait.

Public Health & Safety


Public health reporting is critical for preventing/containing outbreaks of disease, preparing for health emergencies, investigating population health trends, educating communities, promoting healthy lifestyles, and informing and monitoring health policies.  Public health reporting, to local, state, and federal organizations like the CDC, is also hindered by poor interoperability in healthcare.

The ONC explains in an Issue Brief that for public health reporting:

“The goal is to move to seamless, real-time or near-real-time bidirectional exchange of data . . . This allows for the most complete and up-to-date record possible.” (p. 4)

The accuracy of public health reporting, and the strength of the health policies created from it, can only be as sound as a system’s interoperability capabilities will allow.

Fortunately, there is technology that can greatly improve individual patient safety and public health by creating true interoperability in healthcare and seamlessly integrating with healthcare IT systems.

This is an ethical issue – if we want to protect the public and patient safety, we must make interoperability in healthcare a top priority.


By Stephanie Salmich

Statistics reveal the need for better interoperability in healthcare.

5 Revealing Statistics Concerning the Need for Better Interoperability in Healthcare

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

5 Revealing Statistics Concerning the Need for Better Interoperability in Healthcare

Posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2017

In today’s world, interoperability is more important than ever as patients may see multiple providers or receive care from multiple health systems in order to address a single health issue.  In the interest of increasing patient safety and improving the patient experience, health systems must be able to communicate with one another regarding important patient health information.  Information that one provider sends to another could save a life or, at the very least, take the burden of tracking and providing information off the patient.

Even though the technology exists to meet this need, many hospitals are still struggling with interoperability in healthcare as the following revealing statistics demonstrate.

According to research posted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology concerning non-federal acute care hospitals in the U.S.:

1.  Only 46% of hospitals had required patient information from outside providers or sources available electronically at the point of care.

2. Only 18% of hospitals reported that their providers “often” used electronically received patient health information from outside sources when treating their patients; 35% said they “sometimes” did, 20% said “rarely,” 16% said “never,” and 11% did not know.

The top reasons for rarely or never using electronically received patient health information from outside sources were:  the information is not available in the EHR as part of the clinician’s workflow (53%), it’s difficult to integrate healthcare data in the EHR (45%), the information isn’t always available when needed (40%), and the information is not accessible in a useful format (29%).

3. 55% of hospitals named their exchange partners’ EHR systems’ lack of ability to receive data as a barrier to interoperability.

4. Only 38% of hospitals had the ability to use or integrate healthcare data from outside sources into their own EHRs without manual entry.

5. Only 26% of hospitals conducted all 4 core domains (electronically sending, receiving, finding, and integrating/using key clinical information) of interoperability in healthcare.

The number of hospitals that have achieved interoperability in healthcare is simply too low to guarantee patient safety and the continuity of care that patients deserve.  Improving the patient experience will depend on hospitals’ ability to integrate healthcare data and IT systems with the use of solutions that create complete (sending, receiving, finding, AND integrating/using data), rather than partial, interoperability in healthcare.

Statistics reveal the need for better interoperability in healthcare.

Statistics reveal the need for better interoperability in healthcare.


By Stephanie Salmich