This blog post was originally published on Sep 24, 2019 and has been updated to incorporate the latest insight on AI.
Artificial intelligence and robotic process automation (RPA) can optimize repetitive workflows, increase efficiencies, benefit your bottom line, and improve employee morale. At nearly every hospital, there are administrative and operational processes weighing down your staff and hampering your performance – many of these are perfect candidates for intelligent automation. From the pharmacy to revenue cycle, to IT and HR, your enterprise needs AI to transform your back-end processes, so you can thrive in the highly competitive, constantly changing world of healthcare. But with so many options and solutions on the market, how do you know where to start?
One of the key steps in building your business case for healthcare AI and automation is identifying processes that are good candidates for automation. Look throughout the enterprise, and use these five questions to help you figure out which processes to consider for AI and automation technologies.
1. Is it a high-volume, repetitive task?
Not every task can or should be automated, and that isn’t the goal of AI and RPA. The purpose of automation is to take repetitive, high-volume tasks and offload them to an AI workforce, freeing up your human employees for more complex, more rewarding work. Any task that is time-consuming, requires a lot of manual effort, and is done in a similar way each time is a perfect candidate process for automation.
2. How many man hours does a process take?
To maximize impact, you want to automate tasks that take a meaningful amount of your team’s time. The best way to do that is to calculate total hours spent on a process by all of your employees. Ask employees how they’re spending their time each day, tally up the totals for individual processes, and identify which are the most time-consuming as an organization. By automating these tasks, not only will you benefit from increased speed and accuracy, but you will also see the biggest jump in individual employee productivity – we call that a win-win.
You don’t have to be a large health system to recognize the growing benefits of automation. A good rule of thumb is that once a process requires four full-time employees, it is worth considering for automation. For one 2,000 bed hospital, Olive averaged a savings of 11 FTEs per day by automating claims status checks, and another customer saw a cost savings of $340K in just 22 days of their pilot program.
3. What business processes would benefit from increased speed, capacity & accuracy?
Besides freeing up human employees, automation can also complete tasks faster and more accurately than humans – an AI workforce works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Any process where speed, capacity, and accuracy would benefit your organization should be considered for automation. Processes found in claim denial management, supply chain, and patient credentialing are often the best areas to begin.
Did you know unnecessary supply chain expenses represent an average savings opportunity of $12.1 million per hospital1? An AI workforce, like Olive, can automate many of the supply chain processes that impact cost and efficiency. Olive can optimize contracting, sourcing, purchasing, invoicing, and inventory management, reducing waste and minimizing costs.
4. What bottlenecks are impacting your operations?
Every organization has them – a pile of administrative tasks that never seems to get done. It can create a bottleneck that impacts the entire workforce. It is draining for employees, negatively impacts your bottom line, and hurts the patient experience. For example, is accounts receivable chronically behind? If so, how is that impacting your cash flow, your employees, and the downstream workflow?
Automation can eliminate these bottlenecks, enabling your employees to complete their other work more efficiently and effectively, so your whole organization can run more smoothly.
5. What transaction-based work impacts your employees time to deliver a better patient experience?
One of the greatest benefits of automation is that it can optimize your human workforce. For employees, it can mean the freedom to do what they do best – think creatively, solve complex problems, and most importantly, focus on delivering the best possible patient experience. Imagine how much nicer it would be for a patient to be notified of a eligibility issue earlier, rather than later? And for your front desk staff to have more time to discuss the issue with the patient? An AI workforce can make that happen. The healthcare industry strives to deliver a superior patient experience. Ask yourself, “What transaction-based work holds back my employees from delivering that promise?”
Automation & AI success begins with choosing the right processes
Choosing the best processes for automation solutions is critical to AI and automation success. When organizations pick the wrong solution, here’s what happens: employees don’t use it, it doesn’t provide meaningful ROI or benefit, leadership loses faith in AI’s potential, and your artificial intelligence initiative dies before it even has a chance.
With a new technology, like AI, organizations must quickly see a positive impact in order to gain internal buy-in and maintain momentum to scale throughout the enterprise. At Olive, your AI success is our success. As part of our standard onboarding and implementation process, we identify and prioritize your candidate processes for automation with you, using our experience and your specific organizational knowledge to choose where to start with your AI workforce. By visually mapping processes based on speed and impact, our healthcare systems can accelerate time to ROI and gain efficiency and cost benefits quickly.
Olive has scoped over 1,300 candidate processes for automation across 10+ functional areas, from the pharmacy to the revenue cycle. Olive can take your organization to the hospital of the future, guiding you along the way.
Need more guidance on AI & automation?
Identifying potential candidates for automation is just one part of the process – you need a road map that takes your hospital all the way from idea to implementation.
Our white paper, Build the Business Case for Intelligent Automation, helps you develop a clear path to enterprise-wide AI, helping you identify candidate processes for automation and better understand how to take action. Download the white paper today to learn more.