With vaccinations from Pfizer and BioNTech gaining approval for emergency case usage, and new, astounding developments occurring every day in the way SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2) has been affecting people, the next question global healthcare systems are faced with, is this – How do we administer the vaccine to the population, ensuring that the distribution is fair and reaches the right people at the right time?
While this may appear to be an extremely straight forward question, the reality that lies behind it is riddled with complexities, owing to the many complexities prevalent in healthcare management systems.
Considering how much variable data can exist in patient medical history, and the innumerable limitations of legacy data management systems, the current information available about patients, their medical conditions and risk-factor is either outdated, incorrect, or unavailable. And this isn’t the case in one city or nation – every government and healthcare system around the world has similar, if not the same issues.
Moving from the private to the state, to the national levels of healthcare regulations, the amount of patient data, how detailed it is, and how far it dates back as well as the kind of medication administered, or treatment provided differs. The healthcare data vaults are disconnected and unimaginably complex, and there is no way to unite or collate these.
Crisis Response Policies
A general consensus on crisis response policies has been that high-risk patients must be reached first – like patients with diabetes (especially young-onset diabetes) or other comorbidities such as heart conditions or chronic illnesses. However, with no unified database to refer to, identifying every individual’s level of priority will prove extremely difficult – mostly because there isn’t any way to identify every condition every resident has or had in the past.
While a general practitioner/ primary care physician may have a record of their patients and their medical histories, there is no way for the governments to unify these records or prioritize which patients are at most risk. Intelligent Data Management platforms are being used to solve these issues. Most recently, Microsoft has launched its vaccine management platform that promises to help many organizations consolidate their vaccination programs.
However, in addition to these data-related issues, there is an entire range of issues that can be solved by using Robotic Process Automation.
The Role RPA can Adopt
Healthcare workers today, spend a majority of their time organizing patient records, analyzing them, sending out communication regarding scheduling/rescheduling appointments, filing claims, and creating invoices.
With the current surge of patients at hospitals, hospital staff, as well as administrations, are bogged down with tasks in volumes that have never been seen before. Due to healthcare systems being extremely burdened, RPA has become a tool that many organizations are adopting.
Robotic Process Automation, when utilized efficiently, has the ability to –
Automate Back-End Tasks
Back end tasks like filling out registration forms, moving files, managing inventory, tracking shipping schedules and best-before dates, recording and preparing patient data, creating bills and invoices, ensuring completion of payments, and monitoring patient health are repetitive and do not involve decision making. These tasks can be automated and free up precious time for medical staff. They can then pay attention to more skill-based tasks and ensure the comfort of patients as well as those getting vaccinated.
Analyze Patient Records
Sophisticated RPA tools have integrated analytical tools that can categorize patient profiles in reference to prioritization factors. For instance, as we already discussed, people with comorbidities such as diabetes or cardiac conditions must be prioritized in vaccine distribution. Bots can flag profiles that have these conditions and categorize them separately so that they can be accessed by hospital staff with ease.
Streamline and Simplify Appointment Management
Cost-effectiveness is of high importance with this widespread distribution of a vaccine that has extremely specific storage instructions. Hence, ensuring that while the vaccine is available with a certain organization or physician, their appointments do not go unattended, will be a major concern. RPA can streamline this by keeping track of doctors’ schedules and the availability of vaccine doses, as well as cancellations, delays, or rescheduled appointments.
Misinformation and the lack of communication often instill fear in patients. RPA, along with other process automation tools, can support around-the-clock communication and make sure patients are well-informed and feel confident of accepting the vaccination. Information related to the vaccination, its effects and side-effects, the preparation required for administration, and dietary instructions can be communicated through automated messaging systems.
While RPA cannot solve all the issues that the healthcare systems face, in the current situation, digital workforces can solve some primary issues that can potentially become hurdles in the distribution of the Covid-19 Vaccination over the next few months. In the long run, these digital workforces can be adapted to take over more responsibilities, ensuring a gradual simplification of national healthcare systems.