As the pace of technological change continues to increase, digital transformation in healthcare often struggles to keep up. Challenges like integrating aging legacy systems, maintaining patient privacy, and leveraging disparate data sources into actionable insights loom large in healthcare, where time and resources are often at a premium. But the same circumstances that make digital transformation in healthcare more difficult are the very things that underline its importance. When patient lives are on the line, digital transformation isn’t just a “nice to have.” Healthcare systems that achieve their digital transformation goals see immediate improvements in patient experience, quality of care, and patient outcomes. From that standpoint, digital transformation in healthcare isn’t just about adding technology, it’s about revolutionizing the processes and systems that drive the health and well-being of the population as a whole. Case study: Life-saving technology in diabetes long-term care >> Putting patients first While individual healthcare providers commonly put their patients’ needs front and center, the system as a whole did not evolve with that mentality. Due to a variety of factors, including payer systems, consolidation, and the regulatory environment, healthcare systems got a reputation for siloed information, duplicate workflows, lack of clarity, and confusion. As healthcare organizations seek to modernize, smart health systems are taking a consumer-centric approach — redesigning patient experiences and pathways while improving care delivery and outcomes using digital technology. Article: Transforming customer engagement in the digital age >> Planning the future of digital transformation in healthcare During the pandemic, industries accelerated digital transformation efforts across the board, and healthcare was no exception. Out of necessity, more medical touchpoints and interactions moved online, from virtual office visits to automated triage to digital paperwork. Now, two years into the new normal, healthcare organizations are taking stock of their progress, appreciating the speed and scale of their efforts, and mapping opportunities for the future. A recent Deloitte study found that 60% of health systems say they are about halfway through their digital transformation journey. In our experience, working with technology innovators and leaders across industries is where things can get messy. Digital transformation is a long game, and organizations often get bogged down at the halfway mark. To keep moving forward and avoid costly wrong turns, healthcare leaders need a fresh vision and renewed roadmap. Evolving digital transformation in healthcare to meet the changing expectations of patients and providers requires a commitment to a digital-first, people-centric approach, but offers great opportunities for continued growth in connection, innovation, and successful outcomes. Based on our experience, we see five key areas where focused efforts can deliver outsized returns for healthcare systems that are mid-way through their digital transformations: 1. Modernize legacy systems to give providers and patients more options While the vast majority of individual healthcare providers and healthcare organizations use an electronic health records (EHR) system, relatively few seamlessly integrate with patient portals. A recent PEW Health Information Technology (HIT) survey found that almost 80% of respondents wanted to access and view their electronic health records through a website, an online portal, a mobile app, or electronically in some other way. Moreover, the same survey highlights a strong desire for their doctors to share information about the patient’s health status. For most healthcare organizations, integrating patient records across practices and within portals is a headache at best. Adding in the other digital interactions that today’s consumers expect — such as automated appointment and prescription workflows, chatbots, pre-filled forms, and instant answers — might seem impossible. Delivering a better patient experience and giving providers greater flexibility with their tools often takes a more strategic view. Rather than layering in more and more technology solutions, smart healthcare organizations take a holistic approach to modernization, creating flexible, modular solutions that give patients and providers more options in the near term while also making future enhancements easier. Case Study: How an AI healthcare company optimized its digital experience >> Article: Modernization challenges and the path forward >> 2. Mitigate risk to build patient trust In addition to technology lag, healthcare systems also struggle to connect patient health information due to regulatory constraints. To maintain HIPAA compliance in the US and GDPR compliance for EU patients, healthcare organizations sometimes limit the very information sharing that would result in higher quality care. To meet patient expectations of data privacy and personal health data security while also delivering on modern expectations for functionality and connectivity, health organizations need to build in best practices for security and governance throughout their technology architecture. While there are myriad ways to approach this issue, a couple of key options deserve consideration: BYOD Policies A 2019 study found that 63% of healthcare organizations sustained a security incident related to unmanaged and IoT devices. Given the rapid acceleration of digital transformation in healthcare since 2020, we suspect that number is much higher today. As healthcare organizations modernize systems and integrate more virtual and IoT solutions into their technology spaces, having a robust and updated BYOD policy becomes more important. Developing a compliant, enforceable strategy is a critical step in your modernization efforts. Case study: Navigating BYOD in a highly regulated industry >> Containerization One way to mitigate risk is to containerize data, workflows, and applications in the cloud. Although the cloud can sometimes get a bad rap for security, a carefully designed strategy puts security first and can prevent any breach from spilling over too far into other parts of your architecture. Article: Maintaining a composable enterprise >> Blockchain Best known in the context of cryptocurrency, blockchain uses a computerized database of transactions to allow secure information exchange without the need of a third party. Applying blockchain technology to the healthcare industry could improve information security management; healthcare data can be communicated and analyzed while preserving privacy and security. Countries like Australia and the UK have started experimenting with blockchain technology to manage medical records and transactions among patients, healthcare providers, and insurance companies. In both examples, decentralized networks of computers handle the blockchain and simultaneously register every transaction to detect conflicting information, keeping records accurate and making them more difficult to hack. Article: Building trust in your data privacy compliance >> 3. Use voice and wearables to enhance patient experience and outcomes Wearable devices and IoT-based health sensors can track a patient’s conditions and activities remotely, from their vital signs and hydration to the onset of a medical crisis event. The data collected can be helpful to healthcare providers and enable them to better guide patient care. Healthcare providers use IoT and wearable data for remote monitoring and preventative care, providing more specific, personalized connections even with lower staff coverage. Machine learning also drives AI-based natural language processing technology in the healthcare space. As more patients become familiar with voice models like Alexa, Siri, and Google Home, healthcare organizations see potential to deploy the technology for tasks like triage and treatment reminders. For example, the UK’s NHS uses voice technology to field common questions, deliver health information, and remind patients to take medication. Case study: Using wearables to improve patient care >> 4. Put data to work for predictive and preventative care Healthcare organizations collect volumes of data but traditionally haven’t used advanced analytics to translate the information into actionable insights. Today’s leading provider systems are exploring how real-time business analytics, predictive analytics, and AI can transform patient experience and how care is delivered. In much the same way that businesses use data analysis to spot trends, forecast consumer behavior, and drive purchasing decisions, healthcare organizations can use the information they collect to understand patient expectations, discover areas of dissatisfaction or waste, and identify opportunities to enhance the overall experience of patients with their facilities. Likewise, providers can use patient data to understand how a unique individual responds to treatment, spot key diagnostic markers, and even predict potential outcomes so that doctors and patients can work together to minimize risk. Article: Data analytics in healthcare settings >> 5. Automate administrative tasks to focus on patient care The growing number of administrative tasks imposed on physicians, their practices, and, by extension, their patients adds unnecessary costs to the health care system. Excessive administrative tasks also divert time and focus away from providing actual care to patients. Tools like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can help healthcare systems save time and resources in areas such as administration, billing, and human resources — freeing up more time for face-to-face interaction with patients. When it comes to finding the right applications for automation in healthcare, it’s important to keep patient experience at the center of your strategy. Developing a customer-first automation strategy can help create the perfect blend of automated interactions and human interactions that will meet today’s expectations and delight patients rather than frustrate them. Article: Finding the right use cases for automation >> Evolving patient care through digital transformation in healthcare As the digital tools, apps, and resources pioneered during the pandemic continue to evolve, healthcare leaders must continue to push ahead with digital-first, patient-centric investments in technology, integrations, and solutions. Finding the right balance between patient and provider expectations, maintaining compliance, and enhancing patient care requires a mindset that values the patient’s perspective. Ready to take the next step? Get a machine learning jumpstart >> Get a better view of your data analytics maturity >> Refresh your digital transformation roadmap >> Wherever you are on your digital transformation journey, our team of digital, data, and technology experts can help. Ask us your questions about digital transformation in healthcare >>
Articles about Robotic Process Automation
Business processes are the backbone of any organization. But with all the time spent on manual processing, human errors, and system inefficiencies, companies are losing thousands of dollars each year just trying to function. That’s where business process automation (BPA) comes in. The BPA market is ballooning at a rate of 10% year-over-year. And for a good reason — it gets your employees away from manual, administrative tasks and back to doing the job you hired them to do. What is business process automation? Business process automation is the use of technology, including software and systems, to automate simple to complex repeatable, everyday tasks. In doing so, BPA accelerates how work gets done through automated processes defined by the user’s rules and actions. Information is routed to the right place at the right time without significant manual effort. Ultimately, companies can improve their overall efficiency as most frequently repeated tasks are automated to increase speed, accuracy, and consistency. Some common uses for BPA include supply chain management, employee onboarding, system provisioning, work intake management, document approval, and social media posting. What problems can BPA solve? BPA can solve numerous processes inefficiencies and alleviate significant pain points that organizations across industries are facing. Some of the common scenarios in process automation include: Governance: How do we avoid system, site and content sprawl in a way that is standardized and controlled, but still agile and intuitive? Streamlining: How can we improve and track our work intake and management processes? Content Management: How can we help our users produce, organize, and find content across our systems? Regulatory Compliance: How do we ensure we’re aligned with data and retention terms from regulatory agencies and in our contracts? Integration: How can we avoid the need to enter the same data into multiple systems? Cost reduction: How can we reduce repetitive, manual, and error-prone tasks? With the power of business automation, you can answer these questions and save your organization time and money by reducing the time spent completing these tasks. Using Office 365 for process automation Microsoft has an extensive cloud-based ecosystem that can make automation seamless and fit your unique business needs, including Office 365, Power Platform, and Azure. Power Automate Flow is a key component of the Power Platform and plays a significant part in process automation. Flow’s powerful design surface, coupled with hundreds of triggers and connectors, allows automation to be achieved by a variety of user roles with varying technical skills – from power users to administrators and developers. With Power Automate Flow, you can: Streamline business processes with automated workflows Leverage other Office 365 systems and applications Integrate with a wide variety of third-party business systems Expand automation capabilities across desktop, web, and mobile Reduce operating and support cost Real-world process automation One of our clients, a healthcare consulting firm, had more than 20 terabytes of digital content — all stored on internal file servers and an on-premises SharePoint farm — with hundreds of active projects and a multitude of consultants trying to access documents and data. They were also dealing with strict compliance agreements and industry regulations. In addition to migrating their digital content to Teams, SharePoint Online, and Azure Files, they wanted to reduce error-prone manual tasks and reduce their overall support costs by automating and streamlining their work management processes with Teams, SharePoint Online, Power Automate Flow, and Power Apps. Here is a high-level architecture diagram of a solution we developed to achieve the automation they were looking for: Power Apps and Teams are the two systems that end users and content owners interact with. SharePoint tracks the data in lists, and then those are backed by the Azure SQL database tables. In this case, SharePoint Online is being used for the data storage, but in other use cases, you could replace SharePoint Online with Azure SQL or a different storage technology. Power Automate is Microsoft’s power-intelligent, cloud-based solution that replaces old on-premises workflows and automation systems. It uses triggers and actions to eliminate repetitive tasks without manual processes or coding. At the beginning of the process, a trigger kicks off the flow. In this scenario, we used canvas flows that contain the business logic and the actions to perform the steps necessary to automate the entire process. Here is an example of one of the sequences that were used in this solution: In this sequence, there are two primary APIs used in the flows: The Graph API and the SPO REST API. The Graph API is an abstracted API for most of Microsoft’s cloud-based systems that allows you to interface and interact with these systems. The SPO REST API is used to directly interact with SharePoint Online. Additionally, we created a series of templates in Teams to standardize their Information Architecture and governance. Learn more about the success of automation for this healthcare company here. What are the benefits to Microsoft’s automation tools? Overall, installing the right software and implementing the right flows can be a cost-effective way to improve your business processes and reduce the manual input required with repetitive tasks. This can result in a number of key benefits, including: Reduced workload Reduced operational costs Increased reliability Optimized performance Improved compliance Reduced human error Increased reliability With the tools provided in Power Automate, you can get the most out of your existing resources and make your processes more efficient. In a Forrester Total Economic Impact Study, the impact of Power Automate was clear; they found: A 199% ROI over three years $1.41 million in worker time savings over three years 27.4% reduced errors due to increased automation Conclusion Ultimately, BPA aims to make your business processes more efficient, cost-effective, streamlined, and error-proof. The reality is, automating your processes as an organization is not an option — it is not an if, but a when. Companies that get ahead of their automation processes have a significant advantage over their competitors. And, using tools like Office 365 make automation a simple and seamless process. These triggers and actions come together in one integrated ecosystem that offers thousands of prebuilt templates and hundreds of connectors, so you can customize automations and fully automate your work. With no-code apps, rapid development, and an easily configurable solution, Office 365 gives you complete control over your business processes and to get the right information when and where you need it.
In a few short years, hyperautomation, or intelligent automation, has gone from a relatively unknown term to a word used across the technology spectrum. Gartner’s Strategic Technology Trends for 2020 named hyperautomation the #1 strategic technology trend for the year. Gartner also forecasted that the hyperautomation software market will reach nearly $600 billion by 2022. What’s fueling the investment? Organizations are trying to remain competitive by decreasing costs and increasing productivity. A focus on hyperautomation can address business challenges and improve operational efficiency, not to mention elevating the customer experience. “Hyperautomation has shifted from an option to a condition of survival,” said Fabrizio Biscotti, research vice president at Gartner in a recent press release. “Organizations will require more IT and business process automation as they are forced to accelerate digital transformation plans in a post-COVID-19, digital-first world.” The foundation of hyperautomation With Robotic Process Automation (RPA) at its core, hyperautomation incorporates advanced technologies — including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), natural language processing, optical character recognition (OCR), process mining, and others — to not only automate tasks typically completed by humans but also to build intelligence into the processes, as well as the information derived from those processes. By building on RPA, hyperautomation elevates workflow automation to make decisions previously made by people. It augments the power and value of what RPA provides with a proven path to applying AI to improve business operations. Hyperautomation and digital transformation Because of the level of automation that can be achieved, hyperautomation is commonly referred to as the next major phase of digital transformation. And, it’s an intricate process. Organizations must implement automation simultaneously on multiple fronts to reach the end goal of hyperautomation. They often need to partner with digital innovation advisors and technology consultants to create a hyperautomation strategy from top to bottom and take all of the organization’s nuances into account. To achieve scalability, disparate automation technologies must work together. Careful planning, implementation, and improvement of processes are accomplished through intelligent business process management (BPM). BPM is a core component of hyperautomation and supports long-term sustainability and operational excellence. The combination of BPM solutions with low-code, RPA, AI, and ML has become a driving force for digital transformations, integrating essential data, connecting your workforce, and developing applications. It is up to technology leaders to create a clear strategy, set objectives, and prioritize actions across all business operations. Doing so ensures that the application of automation is efficient. Employees on the front lines are also in an excellent position to identify which processes would provide the most benefit from automation. This can be supported by implementing a demand management solution. Then, it can then be synchronized with organizations’ change management to ensure employees understand the changes and are prepared for more advanced processes, thus elevating the workforce. Organizations may be wary of the costs of change on such a large scale, but the process of integrating technologies does not always require creating a new infrastructure to replace manual operations. Many RPA, AI, and ML solutions can be integrated into automation and technologies that already exist. The future of hyperautomation The next generation of hyperautomation includes support for more complex processes and long-running workflows. Software robots will be able to interact with business users across core business functions, directly impacting the customer experience. Hyperautomation represents the next step in intelligent automation and will transform how we will work in the future. It allows businesses to protect their investments through a holistic approach to digital transformation. As hyperautomation becomes more prevalent, we will realize a seamless and equal blend of robotics, human employees, and existing systems, which will all work collaboratively in a way never seen before. No matter your industry, hyperautomation is worth consideration for its potential cost savings, intelligent processing, intelligence mining, employee efficiencies, and customer service improvements. Learn more about how hyperautomation technologies like ML and AI can benefit you.
There’s been a lot of hype about Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Headlines tell us we can transform our business process in as little as 12 weeks using RPA bots. Benefits are touted, velocity is promised, trends of growth are noted, and new jargon was coined: “Automation arbitrage, a term Gartner uses to describe the recalibration of human labor to drive business outcomes is one of the biggest enablers in this coming decade.” – Gartner, The CIO’s Guide to RPA and Introduction to Hyperautomation. Hype can be fun, but it doesn’t answer the very practical question, “Can RPA help transform my business?” This article will answer it for you and help you make an informed decision about whether RPA is right for your organization. Read on to learn the best-fit processes, work through a decision flowchart to determine whether your process is suitable for automation, and gather helpful considerations to keep in mind as you’re getting started. There are also links to demos and further resources throughout. First, what is RPA? Robotic process automation uses computer software (bots) to emulate a human worker interacting with digital systems. RPA bots automate repetitive tasks by interacting with software applications, just as humans do while working. In short, companies use RPA software to perform repetitive tasks that would usually be done by workers sitting at their computers. Bots can be programmed to work just like us − logging into and switching between applications, interpreting information, making calculations, and copying and pasting data. Bots can also process data, trigger responses, and communicate with other systems to perform tasks at a high speed without error, which enables organizations to effectively automate tasks, streamline processes, and increase productivity. Often conflated with artificial intelligence (AI), RPA is non-intrusive and does not require system integration. It sits on top of your existing system to perform business processes, using the same interfaces that humans use. And, unlike scripts or macros, RPA will not break every time there is a minor software update. Essentially, bots can work in two modes, attended or unattended. This provides flexibility to better meet specific business needs. Attended bots are typically targeted toward front-office activities and are useful when the entire end-to-end process can’t be automated. These bots are programmed to work alongside humans to complete processes that can pass data between bots, applications, and human workers, or complete specific functions within a process. Unattended RPA bots execute tasks and interact with applications independent of human involvement. Unattended bots can be triggered by events or scheduled. They will run until a condition is met. Read more: Jumpstart your business processes: Using hyperautomation to achieve speed and scale >> Which business processes are the best fit for RPA? An important thing to understand about RPA is that it doesn’t add value to every area of the enterprise. Forrester Research, Inc. counsels caution when considering this “shiny new kid on the block.” Therefore, careful consideration, selection, planning, and governance are crucial to the success of an RPA implementation. First, consider whether your process falls within or is similar to this sample list of business functions that benefit most from RPA: Finance and accounting − orders, claims, vendor management, accounts payable, and collections. IT services − software deployment, server and app monitoring, routine maintenance and distribution, batch processing, password reset/unlock, backup and restoration. HR services − data entry, payroll, time and attendance management, benefits administration, compliance, and reporting. Supply chain − inventory management, demand and supply planning, work order management, and returns processing. Next, ask yourself the following questions about the process you hope to automate (see the decision flowchart below for the entire process): Is it rules-based, standardized, with clear processing instructions or templates? Is it highly manual, repetitive, and prone to human error? Do transactions flow at a high volume and/or frequency? Is it well-documented, stable, and mature? Are there standard, readable electronic input types? The above sections represent the critical first step to determine whether automation is right for your process. Completing the exercise of the decision flowchart will make it clear whether you should pursue business transformation via process improvement initiatives, or RPA implementation. Benefits realized from RPA There is a reason automation is here to stay, and the sooner you implement RPA, the sooner you create a competitive edge for your business. RPA benefits include: Reduced costs − RPA can reduce processing costs by up to 80%. Improved economics, efficiency, and effectiveness through reduction of human error and the costs of duplicate effort, rework, and mistakes. Transformed and streamlined organization workflows. Increased compliance and consistency. Positive impact on operational metrics − reduced focus on non-value-add activities provides time for important strategic tasks and customer relationships. Improved customer service through agent access to readily available information and reduced manual efforts. Non-intrusive, seamless integration with existing enterprise systems, resulting in reduced implementation costs. Extremely scalable across business units and geographies; multiply bots and deploy more as you go. Improved processes − bots constantly report on their progress, so you can strategically improve processes by using operational and business predictability. How to ensure RPA implementation success Clear vision, comprehensive planning, and structured governance are critical factors in the success of any RPA implementation. Proposed changes must be well-defined by leadership, shared by IT and business, and communicated with the affected employees. Below is a list of success factors to keep in mind as your organization takes its first steps toward automation. Plan well − a common automation pitfall is lack of governance. RPA programs need centralized control and governance, including formalized methods and standards to ensure maximum benefits. Avoid working in silos − implementation efforts must be driven by collaboration between IT and the business and based on a clear vision from leadership. Start managing change early − your people strategy can’t be put off until deployment. The successful realization of benefits from RPA projects requires end-to-end organizational change management (OCM) that is adaptable to the size and complexity of the RPA endeavor. Communicate widely and frequently − throughout the implementation process, communication is key because bots will change how people do their jobs. In addition, some workers may fear job loss, so communication, transparency, and training can help them embrace this new frontier in business processes. Manage for, or eliminate, potential surprises − don’t forget to factor in the effects of third-party partnerships and applications. These are an uncontrollable factor of your business environment, so use care when including them in your automated process. Put process over tools − RPA is not only about rapidly developing bots. A robust governance structure, well-defined opportunity identification process, quality development, and reliable operations are more important than any particular tool. Stay objective − avoid implementing automation solely for the wow factor” Be sure you understand what you hope to achieve through automation and that you’ve considered the long-term costs involved. Manage expectations − bots are not the whole solution, and RPA is not a silver bullet; it should be viewed as only part of the automation strategy for the enterprise. You may need a broader strategy, such as system modernization, process transformation, and use of machine learning, to underpin a larger transformation effort. Keep in mind that RPA is not a set-and-forge” process. New bots will need consistent oversight until they are fully trained. They’ll also require ongoing management, especially when there are changes in the system or environment. Summary Now that you have the facts, you can decide whether RPA is right for your organization. And if you need help, our team is experienced in leading Robotic Process Automation programs in both advisory and implementation capacities. Our solid partnerships with Microsoft and UiPath, a top RPA vendor according to the 2020 Gartner RPA Magic Quadrant, help us offer the most appropriate technologies available for your organization’s needs. RPA services that we offer include: Advisory/assessment Set up Center of Excellence (prioritization of applications) Construct team Evaluate tools Evaluate Book of Work (project work having funding associated with it) Process mapping and analysis Implementation Develop and upgrade bots Create run books for bots (procedures for handling tasks, contingencies, and troubleshooting) Perform monitoring and management (steady state) Contact Fusion Alliance to discover if RPA is right for you.
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