Automation in the Pandemic

4 minute read

The Pandemic Has Spurred the Need for Automation

A recent report published by Forrester says companies are likely to increase their RPA spend by 5 percent in the next 12 months. Forrester describes renewed focus on automation both during and after the pandemic. Automation platforms like document capture, robotic process automation (RPA) and enterprise content management (ECM) are gaining attention as organizations consider business continuity plans. 

The Pandemic’s Impact on Automation

An article published by Wired, called “The Pandemic is Propelling a New Wave of Automation” highlights RPA and its use cases for several companies during the global pandemic.

Among these, it talks about how Takeda, a pharmaceutical company, is using robotic process automation to speed up COVID-19 trial information collection. RPA is inputting fields and copying and pasting from one document to another. This simple, but effective automation process is now taking them days, not weeks, to gather what they need to proceed with trials. 

While there is often fear about job replacement, and RPA could certainly do that, what most are finding out is that most of the time, robotic process automation is just cutting out the manual, tedious tasks so employees can be freed to work on more impactful work.

“Anywhere today that you have repetitive operations in place, those are prime things you could potentially automate to reduce your costs and become more efficient and more responsible,” says Alan Priestley, an analyst at Gartner. With regard to the pandemic, he states, “If you have to do it now, you’re not going to stop doing it when the market recovers.”

Working From Home Means Automating from Work

The move to more employees working from home is leading companies to bring more and more processes online. Automation software like Blue Prism’s RPA tool are likely to help companies to automate tedious, manual tasks – particularly those that take place in the office. Tasks than can be automated are endless, but here are just a few:

  1. Payment Tracking
  2. Inventory Management
  3. Customer Onboarding
  4. Mortgage Lending Processes
  5. Physician Credentialing

For more ideas, be sure to read our blog, 70 Manual Processes Bots Can Do Better.

RPA Cost Savings and Its Adoption in Different Industries

Across the board, organizations in different industries can take advantage of automation, because of its relative ease to implement. Fortune CEO Alan Murray wrote,

“RPA projects, in contrast, are “low-hanging fruit, with a potential for quick savings.” 

For a frame of reference on potential savings, KeyMark put together an RPA ROI Calculator that can show what type of savings RPA could bring for your organization.

We are seeing this adoption occur across industries, too. Particularly healthcare, state government, insurance and accounts payable departments. Here are some resources that go into specifics on each:

RPA as a Competitive Differentiator

Recent advances in machine learning and natural language processing, through RPA and OCR working together, pave the way for back office automation.

Amid the pandemic, organizations like hospitals have less and less time for tedious tasks, as our front-line workers are setting up and running testing sites and dealing with increases in their essential services.

For insurers, the race to better customer service is on. Time spent on tasks like claims processing and underwriting are taking employees away from relational and higher value activity.

IDC Analyst Maureen Fleming says,

“I haven’t talked to anyone who’s not doing automation as a way to become more competitive, and more resilient.” 

There are also advantages to having a digital workforce, too. According to an article from Tech Crunch,

“Robots don’t get sick, tired, or emotionally burnt out. They aren’t walking, talking disease vectors.” 

Three RPA Examples in the Pandemic

Financial Services – Loan Applications:

With so many being impacted by the global pandemic, this organization is seeing a 10x increase in request volume as they try to process loan applications and CARES Act requests. In order to meet customer requests and distribute funds quickly, they are using Blue Prism Digital Workers within their loan application process to automate the end-to-end process in a compliant, secure and scalable way.

Healthcare – SMS Texting:

Using the pandemic as its catalyst, many healthcare institutions are accelerating their focus on remote patient care. One of the oldest and largest teaching hospitals in the U.S. is using Blue Prism RPA to remind patients of upcoming tele-health visits. Their third-party SMS texting solution was getting expensive, as the text volume is increasing to roughly 5,000 outbound text messages per month. The hospital wisely replaced this tool with a Blue Prism Digital Worker Digital Worker, who now sends the text message reminders to patients.

Healthcare – Patient Diagnostic Info Collection and Tracking

In an effort to free its physicians on better patient care during the time of the pandemic, one hospital system automated their patient diagnostic tracking process. Blue Prism Digital Workers now log data into their tracker tool, monitoring progress, status and updating patient data. The Digital Worker then notifies relevant departments with updates deemed necessary by the organization. Clinical risk is reduced because the process is now completed accurately and quickly. As a bonus, it also enables remote work for clinicians who are in isolation because it allows them to support their patient activity while they are offsite.


Robotic Process Automation is helping organizations to focus only on what is important. For more information about what RPA is and how it can help your organization, download our RPA Cheatsheet eBook today!

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