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21 April 2020

5 Innovative Ways Healthcare Organizations are Using Software Robots During COVID-19

21 April 2020

5 Innovative Ways Healthcare Organizations are Using Software Robots During COVID-19

Kate McDaniel is blogs editor at UiPath.

 

As the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) disease has become a global pandemic, every industry is scrambling to determine how best to support their employees and customers in this demanding time.

 

While all industries are affected by the global pandemic, there’s been a steady spotlight on healthcare organizations.

 

Media outlets around the world have shared stories of innovation organizations creating ventilator splitters to use one ventilator for multiple patients, using 3D printers to create personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line workers, and more.

 

At UiPath, it’s been an honor to work together with healthcare organizations to use Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and automation to help deal with a variety of pandemic demand surges. In many instances, software robots taking over mundane, tedious tasks are freeing up healthcare workers to spend more time directly caring for patients.

 

Here are five innovative ways healthcare organizations are using automation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

1. Reducing wait times at drive-up COVID-19 testing sites

While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States (U.S.) is working to approve more organizations (such as pharmacies) to become drive-up COVID-19 testing sites, the existing testing sites have been experiencing huge demand and long lines.

 

new-jersey-covid19-drive-up-testing-lineSource

 

Many waiting in their cars at drive-up testing sites may not realize the labor-intensive protocol mandated for every test (and it must be done while adhering to social distancing).

 

For instance, at the Cleveland Clinic drive-up COVID-19 testing sites:

1. A remote registration administrative (admin) worker validates if the person being tested is a new or existing patient.

2. The admin registers the patient into the Epic electronic medical records (EMRs) system.

3. The admin sends the patient-specific test label to one of the ten remote printers located on the front line of the testing site.

 

At one point, they had six-hour wait times in the drive-up testing lines due to the high demand for testing. The time-intensive manual process explained here, in addition to accidental printer routings, added time to the already hours-long wait times.

 

To help address the issue, the Cleveland Clinic created and deployed a UiPath robot within 48 hours (a very fast deployment). The attended robot checks if each person is a new or existing Cleveland Clinic patient, registers them in the Epic EMR software system, and accurately selects the right remote printer to print each test label. All of which is completed by the UiPath robot in fourteen to sixteen seconds.

 

The COVID-19 automation ROI:

  • Saves 8 – 9 minutes time per patient
  • Accelerates badly needed COVID-19 testing
  • Eliminates costly manual errors

 

NOTE: If you are in the healthcare industry and want to stay up to date on the many ways healthcare organizations are using automation, we invite you to register for our healthcare webinar series.

 

2. Automating COVID-19 test results reporting

The issue of hospital backlogs is not a new issue, but with hundreds of thousands of patients currently being tested for COVID-19 around the world, labs are struggling with the increased backlogs. And it turns out that COVID-19 test backlogs aren’t just an issue at labs. Cumbersome administrative work at COVID-19 testing sites requires significant time for healthcare workers to complete.

 

At Mater Misericordiae University Hospital (Mater Hospital) in Dublin, Ireland, COVID-19 test results must be logged into different systems and reported daily to the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) department—a task that was requiring three hours of input every day.

 

As is the case for many hospitals, the systems being used at Mater Hospital were developed more than 15 years ago during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) 2003 outbreak. For each COVID-19 test, Mater Hospital clinicians:

1. Log into the blood test (lobotomy) system

2. Obtain disease codes

3. Log into a .NET data platform via a virtual private network (VPN)

4. Manually enter test results into the .NET data platform

 

Prior to COVID-19 testing, the same steps were used to process blood test results, but one nurse took two hours each week to log the results.

 

Now, Mater Hospital is using UiPath and RPA robots to automate reporting COVID-19 test results. UiPath robots log into the hospital’s lobotomy system, apply the correct disease code, and input the test result. The robots save the hospital three hours of work each day, which are three hours that can be spent working with patients instead of data entry.

 

The COVID-19 automation ROI:

  • Saves clinicians 2 – 3 hours each day manually reporting test results
  • Improves the employee experience
  • Accelerates operational efficiency

Catch the whole story in our on-demand webinar How Automation Enables Fast Change in the Healthcare Industry.

 

3. Accelerating recruiting and hiring of healthcare workers

In the U.S. and United Kingdom (UK), national calls went out asking retired healthcare workers (doctors, nurses, etc.) to volunteer to assist during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

“To address the coming [healthcare worker] shortage, states from Hawaii to New Hampshire are loosening their licensing rules to give those with clinical skill the ability to pitch in, such as allowing out-of-state physicians to practice right away, asking retired physicians to volunteer, and more,” wrote Selena Simmons-Duffin, health policy reporter at National Public Radio (NPR).

 

However, before these volunteers can join healthcare workers on the front lines, there are some preliminary background checks that need to be completed such as criminal background checks and credential verification. Not only are those processes time consuming, but human resources (HR) departments need to scale immediately to process—and then onboard—the tens of thousands who have stepped forward and volunteered.

 

A government agency is using UiPath robots to run the background checks and upload data from applications into HR systems. Once the volunteer is ready to be onboarded, robots notify the relevant departments. Robots are even being used to help assign volunteers to job areas based on employee needs.

 

The COVID-19 automation ROI:

  • Decrease average time to process volunteers from 5 days to 4 hours
  • Reduce manual data input by 35%
  • Increases speed of the hiring process
  • Frees staff to focus on the next stages of the hiring process and onboarding

 

4. Analyzing incoming COVID-19 data from around the world

It’s one thing to track health survey data from employees during the pandemic but consider trying to analyze COVID-19-related data from regions all over the world. A specialized global healthcare agency is doing just that. They’re working all hours to gather global coronavirus data, centralize the information, and analyze the updates in real time. There isn’t room for manual errors; accuracy is critical.

 

If you’ve tried tracking COVID-19 stats for the community you live in then you know how difficult that can be. This agency has information coming in from more than 50 countries and multiple languages.

 

The healthcare agency set up a data filtering system and deployed UiPath robots to process incoming information from various countries—including scraping data from five different systems—and then centralize it into a single source.

 

The COVID-19 automation ROI:

  • Standardization
  • Improves accuracy
  • Faster results
  • Reduces manual errors

 

5. Enabling procurement department to manage influx in orders

Due to demand generated by coronavirus-related care, hospitals are buying an influx of medical supplies to meet the demand. Hospital procurement departments are responsible for both purchasing and inventorying supplies, but the influx of medical supplies needing to be purchased is putting a strain on procurement (adding an emotional toll, as everyone understands the dire need for medical supplies to quickly reach health workers on the front lines).

 

The procurement department at one major hospital in Canada is dealing with medical supply volumes that are ten to twenty times more than their typical medical supplies needs. This is causing purchase backlogs and delays in delivering medical supplies throughout the hospital.

 

The hospital is deploying UiPath robots to balance orders and inventory in real time. The automations not only help relieve strain on the procurement staff but also ensure requested medical supplies are delivered on time to the correct hospital storeroom.

 

The COVID-19 automation ROI:

  • Reduces purchase backlogs
  • Improves inventory management speed and accuracy
  • Accurate and timely delivery of urgent medical supplies to correct storerooms

 

Ready to deploy RPA in your healthcare organization?

These are just a few examples of the many ways healthcare companies are using automation to combat influxes in demand due to COVID-19. Check out our ever-expanding library for additional examples or apply for a free, one-hour consultation to discuss how automation can help your specific COVID-19-related challenge. Reminder: April 30, 2020 is the deadline for submitting your application for the free consultation.

 

While the focus in this post has been on RPA and automation, automations are not the heroes in these examples. The heroes are front-line healthcare workers using the time freed by software robots to work with patients. I would be remiss to not take this moment to say 'thank you' to all of you working in healthcare, around the world, during this pandemic.

 

Thank you.


by Kate McDaniel

TOPICS: healthcare, automation in healthcare

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