Process Automation in Community Healthcare: Improving Patient Experience

Published By R-Path Automation

Published On May 29, 2024

Imagine a world where community healthcare centers and FQHCs deliver seamless and efficient patient interactions, focusing more on care than bureaucratic hurdles. If you are a leader in this sector, your main goal is always to provide high-quality patient care. Yet, achieving this goal is often challenging due to limited resources and administrative overhead. How do you continue providing high-quality care without overburdening your staff? Enter Robotic Process Automation (RPA), a transformative technology that turns these challenges into opportunities to improve patient experiences and achieve operational excellence. 


Process Automation uses technology to streamline and automate complex business processes, which in healthcare, impacts patients directly. RPA, as one Process Automation technology, automates routine, rules-based tasks that often consume considerable time and resources in community healthcare settings. By implementing RPA, healthcare centers can improve data accuracy, improve service delivery, and free up valuable resources to focus more on patient-centered activities. 


What is RPA and How it Fits into a Larger Automation Strategy 

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a technology that uses software or “bots” to execute repetitive tasks traditionally performed by humans. In the broader context of Process Automation, RPA provides a reliable and efficient means to address high-volume, administrative tasks within healthcare systems, such as scheduling, data entry, referrals, prescriptions, and billing. It speeds up processes and reduces the likelihood of human error, contributing to better data integrity and system efficiency. 


How RPA Enhances the Patient Experience 

The implementation of RPA in community healthcare streamlines administrative tasks and therefore plays a crucial role in enhancing the patient's experience. By reducing the time required for data processing and administrative tasks, healthcare providers give more time and resources to patient care. This leads to quicker service delivery, more personalized patient interactions, and ultimately, higher patient satisfaction. 


Robotic Process Automation significantly enhances patient care in community healthcare centers by refining data management, streamlining resource allocation, and improving the accuracy and accessibility of healthcare services. By automating routine administrative and reporting tasks, RPA enables these centers to overcome resource constraints and focus more on patient-centric care, thus elevating the quality and efficiency of healthcare in community settings. 


Streamlining Patient Referrals 

One way that RPA can make a significant impact is in managing patient referrals. In the case of Saban Community Clinic, a CA-based FQHC, automating a part of their patient referral process has greatly reduced their referral backlog. For a center that records more than 100,000 patient visits and more than 30,000 referrals each year, keeping accurate medical records is essential to patient experience. Saban chose to focus initially on patient referral closures. 


This crucial step in the referral process ensures the patient has not only been referred but scheduled to see the specialist or department to which they were referred. Previously, four full-time staffers handled this process. Unable to keep up with the ever-growing backlog of patient referrals and requests, the providers struggled before automation. If a referral is never closed and they visit their Saban provider for another appointment, the provider must rely on the patient to recount their history. While well-intentioned, not all patients can accurately recall their history. This back and forth of trying to confirm whether the patient was previously referred through their Electronic Health Records (EHR) takes away from the current appointment. 


Instead of burdening their providers or administrative staff, a bot now cross-checks multiple systems to ensure the referral was executed. The technology mitigates the administrative burden on healthcare providers while simultaneously saving valuable time and resources. 


Enhancing Data Management and System Integration 

RPA's role extends beyond patient referrals to encompass broader data management and system integration within healthcare settings. RPA technology ensures high data accuracy and minimizes duplication in patient records. 


It integrates seamlessly with existing Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems and other healthcare management software, eliminating the need for added systems or new software implementations. RPA's flexibility allows it to integrate with virtually any cloud-based or on-premises EHR system, offering vast potential applications to enhance healthcare operations. 


Advanced Reporting with RPA 

RPA deployment also revolutionizes reporting processes across various aspects of healthcare management. Here are a few areas that benefit from RPA-driven reporting. 

  • HR Management: Automating timesheet verifications and payroll processing to ensure accurate and timely employee compensation. 
  • Quality Assurance: Facilitating daily quality reports that uphold compliance and operational standards that may be necessary for maintaining FQHC status. 
  • Team Productivity: Implementing daily reporting bots that monitor team productivity, aiding in better resource planning and management. 
  • Inventory and Supply Chain Reporting: Automate reports on medical inventory levels, usage rates, and reorder needs. RPA can help healthcare providers maintain optimal inventory levels, avoid overstock and shortages, and ensure that supplies are always available when needed, thus supporting continuous patient care. 
  • Financial Performance Reporting: Deploy RPA bots to automate the generation of financial reports such as cost analysis, revenue cycles, and budget comparisons.  


These bots not only provide operational transparency but also significantly improve decision-making capabilities within healthcare organizations. 



Process Automation, aided by RPA technology significantly refines operational efficiencies and decision-making processes in community healthcare settings, directly translating to improved patient care. The integration of RPA into healthcare systems represents a transformative shift towards more efficient and effective healthcare service delivery. Its flexibility, short implementation time, and accuracy make it ideal for FQHCs who rely on limited resources. 


As IT and data quality leaders in the healthcare sector look to the future, the adoption of Robotic Process Automation stands out as a crucial strategy for enhancing patient care quality and operational efficiency. For a deeper understanding and a real-life application of RPA, consider exploring the full Saban Case Study on patient referral automation referenced above.