July 1, 2019 | InBrief

Empowering healthcare enterprises through automation: Making the case for RPA

Empowering healthcare enterprises through automation: Making the case for RPA

Robotics Process Automation (RPA) is a technology that has recently been top of mind for business leaders. This software, which facilitates the automation of highly manual and repeatable processes, has had notable success in the financial services industry. Given that 3 out of 4 hospital and health system CEOs reported cost reduction and efficiency as one of their top two financial priorities, healthcare is clearly another arena that is ripe with opportunities for process automation. Strict industry regulations require daily, weekly, and monthly monitoring of providers, employees, and applications creating many routine, time-consuming processes for staff to manage. Other business areas, such as customer service and group benefits, could also benefit greatly from automation.

While it is not difficult to find processes that can be automated, convincing executive leadership that the time and cost savings will justify the financial investment into the necessary software, infrastructure, and resources can be a challenge. Thus, the first – and most important – step in creating a strong business case for RPA is choosing the right Proof of Concept (PoC). As we will outline below, we have found that clearly showcasing the quantitative and qualitative benefits of RPA with your PoC is critical to demonstrating the potential ROI of the technology.

Establishing a successful PoC is not as simple as automating the first repetitive process you encounter.

It is important to consider that the process you choose to automate will shape the enterprise’s notion of RPA. For that reason, we have found it best to evaluate a variety of potential processes in order to choose the process that will create the best narrative for RPA before laying out your PoC.

The consideration of three main process attributes will help you get there. The first is simple: how much time can the automation of a given process save? The more time saved by automation, the greater the savings realized by enterprise leadership. This cost savings is communicated to leadership through the concept of reallocated hours. It is important to note that reallocated hours do not translate to headcount reductions, but rather to freeing employees to pursue tasks of higher value to the organization. The formula for calculating the reallocated hours an automated process will yield is as follows:

Reallocated Hours = (Manual Time to Complete 1 Process) x (Number of Times Process Completed Manually)

For example, West Monroe created a PoC around processes for credentialing dental providers both as they enter the network and every three years thereafter. Using this formula, we determined our bot would allow the client to reallocate 2,133 hours and credential approximately 8,000 providers annually. Put in terms of the credentialing process itself, this amounts to a reduction in the amount of time needed to credential a provider from 15 minutes to 2 minutes. This was an eye-opening number to client executives, and a significant factor in the subsequent adoption of RPA across the enterprise.

The next process attribute to consider is the number of systems and applications with which the process interacts. Durability and range of function are important considerations when choosing technical tools and the better these qualities are demonstrated by a PoC, the easier it will be to gain support from technology stakeholders for RPA initiatives more broadly.

In the aforementioned example, our credentialing bot needed to interact with 14 different applications including a external websites, a network drive, Notepad, Microsoft Excel, and Outlook. This variety of applications necessitated the use of many different functionalities, such as data scraping, screen capture, and decision logic. Each of these 14 applications were critical to the successful automation of the process.

Finally, it is important to consider the implications of your proposed RPA solution, as there are often additional qualitative and quantitative benefits that can create further support for your PoC. Some common outcomes of process automation include:

  • An increased ability to meet regulations and pass audits

  • Replacing “one off” solutions such as local macro-enabled workbooks

  • Freeing tech resources to focus on more complicated tasks like modifying infrastructure and updating applications

  • The ability to stop outsourcing clerical work

These benefits are inherent to the value of RPA, and the more clearly your PoC can convey that message, the more convincing your case for RPA will be.

Ultimately, any good PoC should prove two things: 1) that the underlying technology is adequate to accomplish the intended purpose and 2) that there is sufficient business value to support the associated funding and effort. When creating a PoC for RPA, evaluating your potential processes in terms of time savings, durability, and additional benefits will ensure that you are presenting the best case for RPA within your organization.

In our next installment of “Empowering Enterprises Through Automation” we will cover the process by which a Center of Excellence (CoE) would intake and prioritize opportunities for automation.

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