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UiPath today announced that it will begin offering health care organizations free robotic process automation (RPA) solutions to perform some of the more time-consuming, monotonous tasks normally undertaken by frontline workers. It also says that it will make available its Automation Hub product, a cloud-based system that prioritizes and tracks RPA workflows, to current and prospective enterprise customers at no cost for one year.
RPA — configurable software that emulates the actions of humans interacting with digital systems — from UiPath and others could bolster efficiency in health systems overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a McKinsey survey, in about 60% of occupations, at least one-third of activities could be automated. Moreover, 40% of workers say they spend at least a quarter of their workweek on repetitive tasks.
UiPath reports that it has amassed 30 COVID-19 use cases to date. In Dublin, the Mater Hospital is using the company’s RPA tools to process COVID-19 testing kits, enabling the hospital’s on-site lab to receive results in minutes and saving the nursing department three hours per day on average. Elsewhere, in the U.S., the Cleveland Clinic leveraged a UiPath product to execute a series of patient intake tasks — checking if a person is already a patient in the electronic medical record, registering the patient, and selecting a printer for label creation — in 14-16 seconds versus the 2-3 minutes it took a human.
UiPath has also assisted with U.S. government automation efforts around COVID-19, for instance helping the Department of Homeland Security use 500 bots to perform coronavirus-related data analysis. Among other agencies, the Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating how it might apply RPA tools to its environment, UiPath says.
It’s not just UiPath’s brand of RPA that’s being used to expedite health processes. In fact, according to a poll conducted this week by online research hub Pulse, half of roughly 50 businesses in its network are using some form of robotics or automation to help workers cope with the pandemic.
Blue Prism last month launched the Blue Prism COVID-19 Response task team, which will assist nonprofits and customers with automation projects and donated resources. The company says it’s also working with the UK’s National Health Service to alleviate pressure on workers by automating HR, personnel, finance, and other health care support functions and by scheduling remote patient consultations, as well as by improving access to psychological therapies as social distancing guidelines are put in place.
As for Kryon, another RPA provider that recently committed to offering products to health organizations for free, it partnered with Maccabi Healthcare Services in Israel to automate downloads of COVID-19 results from the Israeli Ministry of Health — a process that previously took weeks and required workers to enter values line-by-line.
In Macao, NetCraft Information Technology, a systems integrator and a partner of well-funded RPA startup Automation Anywhere, built a community service website — the Macao Epidemic Information Real-time Interactive Map — that taps bots to continually update COVID-19 information from key data sources. Every 15 minutes, the dashboard refreshes with statistics, locations where infections have occurred, hospital wait times, local availability of masks, and more.
Automation Anywhere also says it’s collaborating with Microsoft and the U.K.’s National Health Service to launch IQ Bot, which extracts patient information to process COVID-19 cases for the World Health Organization, and with Shenzhen Pacteria Information Limited to develop a risk assessment tool that determines employees’ risk of infection. Automation Anywhere has also made available a number of bot templates for automating health care system audits, and for continuing basic enterprise operations when employees are out sick.
“The new normal has forced organizations to adapt differently so that remote employees can remain productive and businesses can maintain continuity,” said Automation Anywhere CEO Mihir Shukla in a statement. “We are proud to support the efforts of frontline workers in essential services, such as government and healthcare, as well as other industries, while mobilizing the power of the RPA community to address the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Elsewhere, FedScoop reports that the General Services Administration (GSA), the independent agency of the U.S. government tasked with managing and supporting the functioning of federal agencies, developed a COVID-19 bot to speed up the aggregation of infection counts in the 2,200 communities across which it manages about 9,000 federal buildings. Employees who were manually collecting the data now enhance the GSA’s map, which shows the buildings the department manages and associated county-level infection counts.
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