Unlocking new value with Robotic Process Automation


To address increasingly vocal demands for more affordable care, health systems are looking to unlock new value throughout the organization. One area of opportunity is controlling the costs of administrative burden, which account for as much as 25% of a health system’s expenditures. Digital solutions can help health systems operate more efficiently throughout the enterprise – from clinical operations to business operations to reimbursement.

Last month, seven health system Members in the AVIA Innovator Network came together to talk about finding new value and the technology they’re implementing to achieve it: Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA is technology that allows a robot (or “bot”) to complete the actions of a human to execute a business process. Primary reasons to implement RPA and create a “digital workforce” include time savings, productivity improvements, and unlocking capacity to allow staff to perform at the top of their license or designation.

The bigger picture

RPA is a gateway to enterprise-wide automation, which can deliver improved workforce capacity and affordability. A full-blown automation journey includes scaling RPA capabilities in tandem with departmental solutions. Health systems can accelerate these efforts by participating in the 25% Challenge, AVIA’s newest Strategic Initiative.

Combining deep market insights from AVIA and shared learnings across the 50+ health systems in the AVIA Innovator Network, the 25% Challenge will enable health systems to address root causes of inefficiency to increase revenue, improve margin, and unlock workforce capacity. In addition to RPA, this multi-year journey will focus on digitizing three areas: Business Operations (i.e. capabilities supporting supply chain and human capital operations), Clinical Operations (i.e. capabilities supporting care delivery operations), and Reimbursement (i.e. capabilities supporting revenue cycle operations).

Join us at the upcoming Automation Symposium in December to learn about these topics in greater detail and how the 25% Challenge will help health systems move faster with confidence toward innovation with outsized impact. Contact us now ( to join this movement and keep reading below for key themes from our event in October.

Everyone is in the early stages

The AVIA Innovator Network is consistent with healthcare industry benchmarks that reveal 15% of providers are acting in RPA. Importantly, our Members that are acting in automation are already achieving impact. One Member is using a bot to generate faculty performance reports, including accessing, downloading, saving, and e-mailing specific individuals. Their goal was to unlock employee time savings. The health system has achieved this goal with a bot; hundreds of hours of human work are now reduced to minutes of work with zero errors. This single bot is contributing to the health system’s $5M automation organizational cost reduction goal. And this work can be completed around the clock – as a Member put it, “bots don’t take vacations.”

Strong governance and change management is key

Putting RPA on top of a broken process is counterproductive. As one Member put it, the cardinal-rule of RPA is “don’t automate a bad process.” Subject matter experts, process architects, and technical architects need to work together to improve a process before automation efforts begin.

Once process improvements are complete, RPA can be added on to generate new efficiencies in many functional areas like health plans, call center, supply chain, health information management, finance/accounting, IT, and legal. One area where every single Member is looking to find new efficiencies and apply automation is within the revenue cycle. One Member is using RPA to accelerate the eligibility verification process with payers, resulting in ~ 45% reduction of denials. It also has the added benefit of unlocking capacity for 15 FTEs that were originally mired in mundane tasks and can now be deployed on value-add activities across the organization.

Start with small wins

Implementing RPA has the potential for major cost and time savings, but automation can start out small. One Member made a very practical recommendation: “Take the small win. Don’t think of the most complex thing to automate. Look at smaller things that you can automate and then reuse that bot and build on it to get some bigger wins.”

For example, one Member health system identified efficiency improvement opportunities in its document and imaging process. People and process improvements were made to first optimize the workflow, but there was still room for improvement. A bot was created to mimic the employee’s mundane tasks, resulting in a 90% reduction in cycle time.

Bringing automation in-house

Members are deploying a variety of resources to implement automation. Using consultants and vendors is still the route that the majority of health systems follow, but 43% of Members are expanding their in-house capabilities to develop and deploy bots with employed resources like process and technical architects.

Members continue to actively evaluate multiple vendors throughout their automation journeys – another sign that this work is in the early stages. So even after Members have selected an initial vendor, they are willing to switch to a different vendor or deploy more than one vendor depending on changing business needs.

To learn more about RPA and the 25% Challenge, AVIA’s newest Strategic Initiative, contact us now ( 


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To learn more about RPA and the 25% Challenge, AVIA’s newest Strategic Initiative, contact us now (