Sep. 9, 2019 | InBrief

Healthcare automation: Identifying and prioritizing opportunities to deploy bots

Healthcare automation: Identifying and prioritizing opportunities to deploy bots

As we discussed in the first post in our series on Robotics Process Automation (RPA) in the healthcare industry, “Making the Case for RPA,” the initial step in creating an RPA Center of Excellence (CoE) is to demonstrate the business value of the initiative through a strong Proof of Concept (PoC).

The next crucial step, which we outline in this blog post, is to establish that the benefits of RPA are sustainable throughout the organization and can be replicated on a scale larger than the initial PoC. This is accomplished by developing thoughtful, organized procedures by which current business processes are identified and prioritized for automation. In order to achieve this, you must rely on business area leads to pinpoint valuable opportunities within their own domains and be prepared to effectively compare those opportunities across different business areas.

Start with leadership, then gain ground with other stakeholders.

Creating leadership awareness around RPA is your CoE’s “foot in the door” to a broader initiative. However, investment from mid-level management and below is crucial to bringing the best opportunities for automation through that door once it has been opened. In our experience leveraging RPA for the credentialing of dental providers, for instance, we have found that conducting “Clarity Workshops” with these stakeholder groups from individual business areas is a highly effective way of demonstrating the capabilities of RPA and of sourcing potential opportunities for automation. The objectives of these workshops are to:

  1. Educate stakeholders on the capabilities of RPA (this can largely be accomplished by the demonstration of previously automated processes)

  2. Outline the process characteristics that lend themselves to automation as well as those that inhibit it

  3. Identify the time-consuming, repetitive processes currently in place in each business area which may be good candidates for automation

A successful Clarity Workshop will yield a prioritized list of each business area’s most suitable candidates for automation. The opportunities in this list will be assessed by the RPA team for feasibility and subsequently recorded in an Opportunity Backlog, a document used to track and prioritize automation opportunities identified by the organization.

Prioritization is a crucial piece of the RPA CoE’s methodology.

While there are many quantitative benefits of process automation that can drive the prioritization of opportunities in the Opportunity Backlog – such as the number of hours that could be reallocated to more beneficial activities, or saving the subscription cost of obsolete or replaceable software – there will always be additional advantages that are more difficult to quantify. These include factors like data quality refinement, process volume/frequency improvement, and human error reduction.

To assist with prioritization, we score these factors on a 1-5 scale, where a score of “5” denotes an opportunity for significant improvement via RPA, to the extent that no further optimization would be necessary, and a score of “1” signifies that RPA would only offer minimal improvement, if any at all. Combining these scaled scores with the quantitative areas discussed earlier will translate to an “Automation Score” for each individual process. These scores (and the method by which they are calculated) provide a standardized view of the processes in the Opportunity Backlog, which eliminates uncertainty and bias around the CoE’s selection of processes for which RPA solutions should be developed, and serves to highlight processes that should be afforded the greatest priority.

The success of an RPA CoE hinges on the clear identification and prioritization of processes that make good candidates for RPA.

Even the most rigorously prepared Opportunity Backlog must be supported by effective communication practices in order for all stakeholders to understand the goals of the CoE and buy in to the RPA initiative. With the support of enterprise leadership, business process owners will need to establish a dialogue with the RPA CoE around the Backlog and the process by which its contents have been prioritized.

Creating this dialogue will help the business:

  • Better understand RPA technology

  • Identify additional automation opportunities across the enterprise’s daily activities

  • Understand why opportunity prioritization by the RPA team may not directly match the preferences of the business area

The increased awareness created by this transparency will help ensure process owner satisfaction and provide fodder for success stories that can be used to advocate for RPA throughout the organization.

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