(By Milan Sheth)
Today, the entire world is experiencing an unprecedented global health crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a colossal challenge for the healthcare industry. Additionally, this outbreak has forced governments across the globe to take crucial measures in ensuring the safety of their citizens. Self-quarantines, lockdowns, widespread testing and tracking have become synonymous with the current situation. But, perhaps the silver lining to this is the knowledge of how critical healthcare institutions and medical professionals have become in the frontline battle to contain this pandemic. And, they need necessary support and access to technology, to empower them to continue in their efforts to tackle this crisis.
Technology has successfully integrated itself into almost every aspect of humankind. Our evolving lifestyles have nurtured innovation and adopted digital transformations and expanding their client or customer reach. Presently, any individual requiring a product or service, must get online and obtain, consume and analyse information instantly to make decisions and even purchases. In this data-driven digital age, it is imperative that every industry invests in technology. Similarly, the healthcare industry has also reaped several benefits of technological innovations that have been built for the purpose of aiding healthcare professionals. For a long time, technology has supported the industry in developing diagnostic tasks, surgical operations and new pharmaceuticals.
Automation is the technology that has become the driving force for many other industry verticals, to enhance the capacity of their workforce. Naturally, the use of automation technology in healthcare is quite crucial. Leveraging automation helps health professionals to optimize business and medical processes. This is especially true when performing digital tasks that are manual and repetitive. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can achieve two things – perform the task automatically, with little to no human intervention, and secondly, eliminate human errors, giving researchers and health experts ergo reassurance on the quality of the data. Furthermore, agencies can leverage RPA to collate the right information to be shared with the citizens, by defining rules to the data gathering bots and specifying the reporting mechanism.
More recently, during this pandemic, RPA has been used to gather and display accurate information, via an automated, unified platform that acts as a liaison between government and the general public. Through GPS-led tracking and RPA bots, the platform can provide unattended, real-time reporting, with information gathered from specific, defined, reliable sources. Reporting includes –information on areas on the map where infections have been identified, locations of healthcare facilities, availability of masks and sanitizers, and many such verticals of important information which is necessary to be shared and requires transparency during an epidemic. Such real-time information, enabled through automation, offers reassurance to the people, curtails any panic, and makes it easier for the administrative agencies to maintain normalcy.
While automation in its present form is widely beneficial, there are many use cases for intelligent automation. With innovation in technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), cognitive automation further empowers RPA with the ability to judge and decide. If we take the current scenario of tracking people who have contracted COVID-19, we know that there are certain preliminary tests that are conducted. These include answering questionnaires and monitoring the body temperature. The results of these preliminary measures have certain actions which are typically prescribed by a health professional, who would likely be performing a more complex task. Intelligent automation, capable of making judgements could easily help the health professional, by not only eliminating his/her manual tasks, but also streamlining this process with faster inferences and reporting, through connected technology.
Digital technologies like intelligent automation, RPA, AI and ML, are empowering the healthcare industry to improve productivity, streamline processes, and inevitably support the community with their knowledge and expertise. During global pandemics, like the one we are now facing, it is important for technology to innovate and support the healthcare sector, to improve their processes and ensure that humankind survives any outbreaks with minimal casualties.
(The author is the EVP IMEA Region, Automation Anywhere)