Robotic Process Automation is not Artificial Intelligence.

Hospitals and healthcare organizations face ongoing challenges with process efficiencies and the need to accomplish more with reduced margins. We think it’s important to do a deeper dive into some of the things Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is, and what it’s not.

It’s not Artificial Intelligence (AI).

As much as some vendors want to attach this “shiny new name” to RPA, it’s not AI. RPA automates repetitive processes, and replaces labor, it doesn’t make decisions for you. RPA uses structured inputs and logic, while AI uses unstructured inputs and develops its own logic. It’s simply not AI. While it may be helpful in the future, the current barriers to entry for AI remain high and the results unproven. The savings aren’t truly quantifiable because you can’t predict how smart your AI will become. Having a set of rules that are acted on to make workflows easier is RPA, and that is what’s being utilized in most healthcare situations.

It doesn’t prevent hospitals from solving the same problem twice.

Healthcare is complex. There are many problems to solve and costs to contain. RPA is not a magic bullet, it’s an approach to process automation. RPA can uncover mistakes, check for cost accuracies, copy and paste data, scrape data from largely any application, make calculations, open and move files, log into programs, connect to APIs, and extract unstructured data in multiple silos. RPA automates the tedious, manual steps completed by people, but faster, and more accurately. Calling it AI-powered is wrong, because RPA is not a cognitive tool.

Here are a few of the applications of RPA, that are falsely attributed to AI:

  • Claims Status Checks
  • Prior Authorization and Eligibility Management
  • Payment Processing
  • Reconciliation and Adjustments

It’s not Cybernetics.

Cybernetics is the study of how systems regulate themselves and take action toward goals based on feedback from the environment (such as the nervous system and brain and mechanical-electrical communication systems). Norbert Wiener’s 1950 book Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine (1948), investigates the interplay between human beings and machines in a world in which machines are becoming ever more computationally capable and powerful. But RPA is not cybernetics, and neither is AI. In a futuristic Terminator world, maybe. Not today.

AI as a Service is more expensive than RPA and the cost never ends.

When choosing AI as a service, you pay a monthly or annual subscription fee. This cost continues for the life of the service. RPA is much more flexible, adaptable, and requires far lower maintenance compared to even a few years ago. RPA has adapted to meet the changing demands in healthcare and the changing platforms used to practice healthcare (Citrix, AWS, etc). It’s a tried and true technology. We agree that there is a place for AI in the future, yet today’s customers considering an automation solution should be mindful of how much they’re paying and what they’re receiving. RPA solutions are often live within days or weeks. Alleged AI solutions are months, quarters, or years in development before you start to see any results.

Why Boston Software Systems?

Make sure that you find a company where you share the same goals,
understand the process, and adopt the right technology to address healthcare challenges. There’s a lot of potential for AI in healthcare, and we’re excited to see the progress in a few years. But, if you’re looking to make improvements and reduce costs today, RPA delivers the most value.

Boston Software Systems was reviewed in the 2021 “Best of KLAS,” with a solid ranking of 90.8, based on customer feedback. Access the @KLASresearch spotlight report on Boston Software Systems. See how we score against the competition.

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