From the Ground Floor: Intelligent Automation Best Practices

From the Ground Floor: Intelligent Automation Best Practices

In our time developing and building AI-based automations for our healthcare customers, we’ve identified a series of best practices. These practices have helped not only our automation engineers become more effective in their role, but practices that allow our customers to experience quicker value from the automations that we build for them. These practices allow us to build the ideal automation.

Whether you’re an automation engineer using an RPA solution, or a healthcare administrator considering partnership with an Artificial Intelligence as a Service provider like Olive, we think it’s important to highlight the business impacts that these practices can have. In this post, we’ll discuss 3 simple rules we apply to our automation process and the big impacts they have for the healthcare organizations that we serve.

 

Names Matter

Automations built on an intelligent process automation platform like the one we use to build for our customers consist of a series of logic-based rules and actions. These rules are configured through a web-based interface that then allows you to schedule the resulting automations to run on a defined cadence. While it may seem obvious the number one most important best practice when building automations is none other than – labeling each rule and action effectively.

Here’s why: Although these automations may initially be built by a single engineer, depending on the complexity, they will likely be supported over time by several others like fellow engineers or managers. If you work with an AI-as-a-Service vendor like Olive, you are supported by a Customer Success team, who monitors your automations regularly, optimizing and addressing failures when they occur. Automations are also generally not built overnight. In our case, the engineer becomes very familiar with their customer’s processes as they build them, allowing for iterations to occur as they become more familiar with each business process. Providing descriptive and easily understood labels on each of your rules and actions becomes paramount to ensure the success of the engineer, the supporting team, and the automation.

Try v. When

Error handling is important when building workflows to ensure failures are limited and more importantly – that when failures occur, you know why and can address quickly. This is key to ensuring that automations run smoothly and that human intervention is kept to an absolute minimum. After all, the promise of AI and automation is that it will do the repetitive, mundane tasks so that humans don’t have to. This is the promise we seek to deliver everyday to our customers.

Here at Olive, we have a trick for ensuring limited failures and quick error handling – Try and When statements. Here’s how it goes –  whenever you craft an action step in your process automation solution, you wrap it in a Try Wrapping your actions in a Try action ensures that your workflow does not fail, when it doesn’t need to. Here’s an example: When looping through patients, your workflow should ‘Try’ to do something for each patient. Now, when using the Try action, if there is a failure, you should set an error for the patient. Then have it reset to a known point, and have it continue on to the next patient. Now the workflow can continue on, and process the remaining patient list. This can cut the amount of time that your staff spends on specific tasks by 90+%, as they then only need to review and action the errors. The automation has taken care of the rest.

Many workflows will have common failures or optional scenarios that can be handled by a Try, however there are times when a “When” action is more suitable. Let’s say your workflow includes the automation of an action including a browser pop up window, but it does not always include the pop-up. This optional scenario can be addressed by wrapping the action in the proper logic – When. When using a When action, your automation will check the page for the pop up, but will not error out if no pop-up exists. It will simply move on to the next step.

Both of these tricks create a more efficient workflow that requires markedly less human intervention and support.

The Right Page

The first step of every automation should be a step to confirm that you’re on the right page within the given system. Before you start building out actions, before you do anything else, make sure you’re logged in and on the right page or file.

Why is this such an important step? By confirming along the way that you’re in the right place and on the right page, you greatly mitigate the risk of unintentionally doing the wrong thing in the wrong place. This is incredibly important, particularly in healthcare where Olive specializes, as we deal with Protected Health Information (PHI). If we entered PHI incorrectly, there could be grave legal and monetary repercussions.

While it adds a little extra weight to your automation, this step is worth it.

 

In Conclusion

Applying these three simple rules to automation builds can ensure efficiency and effectiveness in your workflow. While these are by no means all-inclusive of the practices we employ at Olive, they are foundational.

As experts in artificial intelligence and automation, our mission is to automate the most burdensome repetitive tasks in healthcare operations to reduce the cost of healthcare and ultimately improve the quantity and quality of human life. If you’re interested in learning more, connect with me on LinkedIn or contact us directly at olive@oliveai.com.

3 Benefits of Intelligent Process Automation for Your Business

3 Benefits of Intelligent Process Automation for Your Business

As a healthcare business professional, what are the biggest benefits of intelligent process automation to your business? If you have never considered that question, then you may be missing out on a myriad of potential benefits. The use cases for it in healthcare businesses are seemingly endless. Given that these technologies are ideal for processes that are high-volume and similar every time, the healthcare industry, with its wide variety of administrative tasks taking up valuable human time, is a prime candidate to leverage the power of automation.

In this article, we will dive into the details of some of the more common intelligent process automation technologies and 3 specific benefits intelligent process automation can bring to the healthcare businesses.

Explaining Process Automation & RPA

Before we dive into the specific benefits intelligent process automation can bring to your healthcare business, let’s dive into some of the nuts and bolts of process automation and RPA (Robotic Process Automation).

What is Process Automation?

Process automation is as simple as the title suggests—a process done automatically, not by a human being but by computer software that does not get tired, frustrated, and doesn’t need to sleep, drink or eat. Processes that become automated require less human involvement and certainly less human time to execute to its utmost efficiency.

Robotic Process Automation

One of the most apt examples of process automation and its benefit to a healthcare business is Olive’s Robotic Process Automation. Olive utilizes RPA to automate cyclical and time-consuming tasks that are rule-based and trigger-driven, freeing your staff from enduring countless hours of productivity that could have been better applied elsewhere in your business’ developments.

Now we’re sure when you hear the word “robotic”, you might immediately think about Rosie from the Jetsons, who performed menial house tasks as a robot made for a futuristic cartoon family from the Hannah Barbera cartoons, or, if you would like a more modern example, the Transformers who can transform into vehicles or other machinery assist human beings in various ways. Those aren’t the types of robots we’re talking about here.

Robots exist in other forms in technology, as detailed by Olive’s blog that also touches upon Robotic Process Automation. These technologies can consist of soft-bots, a computer program that acts on behalf of another user or program, or sensor networks, a group of spatially separated and dedicated sensors that monitor and record an environment’s physical conditions and organize the data collected at a vital location.

Oftentimes, RPA is considered the simplest form of Artificial Intelligence and is therefore used in business practices that require little skill. RPA specifically reaps benefits by giving skilled and specialized workers the opportunity to focus all of their attention on jobs that demand full human cognition and subjective decision making.

RPA vs Cognitive Automation

To put it simply, RPA takes a given set of inputs and produces a predictable, repeatable set of outputs. Not unlike a grunt or, aptly, a robot designed solely to follow instructions without freedom to think independent of its design, while other more advanced forms of intelligent automation, like cognitive automation autonomously improve in performance over time using machine learning. Machine learning is similar to humans gaining experience and figuring out more efficient ways to do things, but it is computers doing the iterating and learning instead of people. Both cognitive automation and RPA are beneficial tools for a myriad of  work processes ranging from simple rule-based processes (RPA) to more complex judgement-based processes (cognitive automation).

Benefit 1: Minimize errors

In order for your organization to fire on all cylinders with maximum profitability and productivity, the main things you have to invest on are: saving time and decreasing or outright eliminating the risk of errors. Why? As they say, time is money, and errors are setbacks that can be avoided if you leverage the benefits of process automation. Software like Olive can assist healthcare organizations, hospitals, and their staff to remedy a human-made mistake or miscommunication.

To help conceptualize and quantify the benefits, let’s consider a common healthcare business process: eligibility checks. Often times, eligibility checks require a human to manually transfer data from one system to another system, and then make a decision (or have one provided to them) about eligibility. This mundane, but important process is prone to typos and human error given the same data being entered multiple times into different forms and User Interfaces (UIs). It is no surprise then that technical errors cause 61% of initial medical billing denials for eligibility. By offloading this business process to  Olive, healthcare organizations can benefit from a high level of automation and repeatability in executing these tasks that minimizes susceptibility to human error and typos while still enabling businesses to use existing EHRs.

Benefit 2: Enhance problem-solving capacity

Automating processes in within your organization business doesn’t simply stop at the ‘cyclical and time-consuming tasks’. Enter, intelligent automation. Intelligent Automation is what is says on the tin: software that actually thinks for you, thus is the wonder of artificial intelligence and its role in intelligent automation. It isn’t simply mind-numbing repeatable tasks with minimum human monitoring, but actual problem-solving software that can actually think independent of human guidance and assist problem-solving on every level imaginable.

As best described in Olive’s article, 3 Trends to Consider Before AI Deployment, by 2026, intelligent automation might save the US healthcare economy a total of $150 billion annually according to a recent analysis by Accenture. It’s no wonder healthcare organizations are investing in intelligent automation, powered by AI software like Olive.

It doesn’t stop at healthcare, however, we’re seeing intelligent automation overtake the workplace and our daily lives all around us, from automated tellers at banks replacing human tellers, to booking hotel rooms online without needing to speak to a live person, to letting Google Maps navigate your next drive, just to name a few.

That being said, the most astounding example of intelligent automation, may indeed lie in healthcare. AI-assisted robots, as the article further explains, are aiding surgeons with medical decision support, image analysis and diagnostics, reducing and eliminating the potential of human error by joining human and machine in order to achieve the best results possible.

Benefit 3: Free clinical staff to work on clinical tasks

Another aspect of intelligent automation is cognitive automation software, which brings intelligence to information-intensive procedures. Cognitive automation is effectively the combination of Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing. What sets cognitive automation apart is its performance of jobs that only human beings used to be able to do.

Often times, healthcare employees are bogged down with tedious administrative tasks that, while important to business, are inherently time-consuming and repetitive (e.g. insurance verification and data recording). These responsibilities can easily be outsourced to an RPA to execute in order to free up said staff so they can concentrate on tasks that humans excel at which require uniquely human skills like empathy and creativity (e.g. corresponding with patients, resolving more complex issues, etc.).

Part of cognitive automation is machine learning in order to have computing technology imitate human operations to complete tasks. While RPA is required to operate on a rule-base that limits its decision making, Cognitive automation expresses its artificial intelligence as a resource that learns as any human would in order to adapt and execute a job to its utmost efficiency, while becoming fatigued as a human being would, mind you.

Conclusion

In conclusion, in the field of healthcare alone, studies have found the increase in automation processing and data recording has decreased the in-hospital mortality rate by 15% and administrations that have adopted RPA have noticed a 200% return of investment in the first year of use according to this Olive white paper. Given the power of the technology and the myriad of high-volume tasks ripe for outsourcing to an intelligent automation solution in healthcare but it’s no wonder that intelligent process automation is a problem solver and driver of profitability-growth in the industry.

Dispelling 10 Myths about AI in Healthcare

Dispelling 10 Myths about AI in Healthcare

Depending on whom you ask, artificial intelligence has the potential to transform our economy, take our jobs, overrun the human race, or maybe even a combination of the three. While AI holds a lot of promise, it has also turned into a buzzword that is frequently misunderstood and misapplied to both our lives and our businesses. This is especially true in healthcare, where the promise of better patient outcomes is often overshadowed by the threat of compromised jobs or regulatory red tape. To help set the record straight on the current state of AI in healthcare, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 myths we hear most frequently.

1. There is just one type of AI.

In fact, AI is a blanket term that comprises multiple types of technology, including optical character recognition, natural language processing, and machine intelligence. At its core, artificial intelligence refers to technology that mimics sophisticated human processes in a way that makes it indistinguishable from a human. In this way, our definition of AI comprises not just computer vision and machine intelligence, but also Robotic Process Automation, which automates repetitive, rule-based tasks.

2. Automation will take away more jobs than it creates.

In fact, industry experts speculate that the opposite will happen. The reason why is because AI adoption won’t happen overnight––and when it does happen, it will primarily replace repetitive, lower-skilled jobs that don’t require human traits such as creativity or empathy. This won’t invalidate the need for a human workforce; on the contrary, it will provide an opportunity for jobs to become less menial and more thoughtful.

3. AI is first and foremost a way to cut costs.

Some organizations may turn to AI as a way to cut costs, but that also can be a side-effect of so many other benefits that automation can bring. AI can help organizations improve their efficiency and KPIs, reduce risk, improve employee satisfaction and retention, and more…while also cutting the costs associated with them.

4. AI’s ROI is difficult to calculate.

Because AI is still a new business tool and ROI may not be as cut-and-dry as it is for other, more conventional business tools, many mistakenly think that AI’s ROI is difficult to ascertain and they choose to avoid the perceived risk. However, the key to assessing ROI is to be diligent in measuring your current-day spend––not only in terms of salary and benefits, but also in terms of risk, of extra days in A/R, and any other subsidiary metrics that might be positively influenced by AI. If you choose to work with an automation vendor, they will be able to help you think through the metrics to consider when evaluating AI’s ROI potential. Then, they will help you understand how AI will impact those metrics so that you can generate buy-in from your team––while also feeling confident yourself.

5. AI is a magic fix for your business.

Many organizations think that AI is the “secret sauce” that will help them improve efficiency, reduce costs, and make their employees happier. And while all of those things can and do happen when AI is executed properly, those effects don’t come quite as easily as some may believe. Many AI companies sell insights, not action, to their clients, which means that your organization still needs to do the work in order for AI to have a tangible impact on your business.*

6. AI requires large amounts of data.

It’s true that more data is always better when it comes to artificial intelligence––after all, the more historical data you have at your disposal, the more opportunities you have to “train” an algorithm to act a certain way based on similar data in the future. However, depending on the task that you intend to automate, certain AI frameworks are flexible enough to work with limited subsets of data.

7. Only large companies with in-house IT teams can benefit from AI.

Even as recently as a few years ago, organizations needed to employ a sophisticated internal IT team in order to build, customize, and implement an AI model for their organization. Not so today. At Olive, we’ve seen AI successfully implemented everywhere from the nation’s largest health systems down to 17-bed rural clinics. If your organization is on the smaller size but is still interested in implementing AI, you might consider contracting with a third party to build and manage your automations rather than bringing on extra in-house support.

8. You can’t build AI in-house.

With the advent of cloud technology, it’s easier than ever to create data-intensive automations and harness the power of AI for your organization. This, coupled with robotic process automation and AI platforms, provides organizations with more of a “do-it-yourself” option so that they can harness the benefits of AI without having to rely on external consultants. If you’re trying to determine whether building in-house or hiring an external consultant would be more beneficial for your organization, ask yourself whether AI is a part of your organization’s core competency (meaning, it directly aligns with the value proposition with which you face the market). If AI is a key component to your organization’s value statement, you might want to consider if you have the skills in-house to execute on your workflows. If that isn’t the case for your organization (which it likely is not for a provider), outsourcing your workflow to an automation vendor will help you harness the same impact without straining your internal resources.

9. AI inherently possesses the ability to learn from itself.

AI “learns” by analyzing test data and determining which inputs translated to a given output. It will make its best educated guess based on the data it has at its disposal, but just like humans, it needs additional support to help it differentiate “right” from “wrong.” Often, humans will re-train the algorithm to help it refine its predictions.

10. AI is still too risky to apply to healthcare.

There are too many applications of AI in healthcare––from diagnostics to imaging to revenue cycle management––for reservations to pervade the entire healthcare industry. It’s true that in a clinical setting, AI can pose a greater risk because the stakes of being “right” are much higher. However, administrative AI is a burgeoning subset of healthcare AI that focuses on improving operational efficiency by optimizing data transfers between healthcare tools and systems. In our experience, the impact potential is undeniable: one of our customers was able to reduce their Days in Accounts Receivable by 34% in the first 180 days of using AI to manage their organization’s insurance eligibility checks.

Even though AI in healthcare still is a new concept and will continue to be defined over time, early signs indicate that the sky is the limit in terms of its potential to benefit an organization’s operational efficiency. If your organization is looking for ways to harness the power of automation and AI, reach out to us today to learn more.

*That said, Olive isn’t one of those “Brain in a Jar” companies (as we like to call them). Our AI solutions automate your repetitive and high-volume tasks so that you can reap the rewards of AI without having to sacrifice your team’s time and bandwidth.

Customers Can’t Tell You What To Build

Customers Can’t Tell You What To Build

It’s Your Job To Figure That Out

When you’re building a product for someone, the first thing you need to know is that your customer probably doesn’t care.

They will care. Once you’ve finished the product, put it in their hands, and made their life better, then they will care.

For about as long as it takes them to remember that lunch is in an hour. Then they’re back to not caring.


Such is the life of a product creator. It’s your job to create something new for customers, but it’s not their job to care. This can seem disrespectful. You slaved away, building this product for them. You’ve sacrificed weeks, months, years of your life to make this — and they can’t be bothered to give you a little feedback?

You might feel entitled to at least some attention. You are, after all, building a product for them. Surely they can take some time out of their day to tell you what you should make.

But they won’t, for a couple of reasons:

  1. They don’t care enough to. They have a million other things going on in their life. Things more important than telling a programmer how to do their job.
  2. They’re too busy to. Chances are, they’re busy building something else for someone else. They don’t have time to sit down and go over the product with you.
  3. They don’t know how. They don’t have the skills to create the products they use, and they don’t have the bandwidth to sit around and come up with ways the product could be different. Studies have shown that the only feedback they can give you is feedback about what they’ve already used, not what’s possible. (Considering what’s possible is your job).

They don’t because it isn’t worth their time. People value their own time. “The majority (66%) of adults feel that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer experience.”

That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time, because it is. The reason customers won’t give you attention isn’t that your work doesn’t matter; it’s because they have delegated the work to you and trust you to get it done. The highest authority in any business isn’t the CEO or the board, but the customers. It’s their money that pays the bills.

It’s your job to solve their problem, and to solve it with as little support as possible.

To some people, that sounds harsh. ‘You expect me to solve your problem, without your help?’ It can even seem like a tautology; how do you solve a problem you know nothing about?


In reality, it’s honorable work to have. And deep down inside, you know this. You’re in this position because you decided to make building products for other people your job. You made it your job (hopefully) not because you thought you’d get rich, or because it was easy, but because you find meaning in the work. Appealing to customers to tell you what to do not only produces a worse product; it takes the challenge and the honor out of doing it.

That said, you want to stay receptive to any feedback they have without forcing them to give it. People may not be able to imagine what will make them happy, but they can tell you how they feel about what’s in front of them right now.

Not getting in the customer’s way is almost as important as making the product in the first place. One study showed that 74% of customers are likely to switch brands if they find the buying experience difficult, no matter how awesome the product. This is a painful loss because it costs anywhere from 5 to 25 times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to keep a current one.

If your customers could help you that much, you’d be out of a job.

As it so happens, they can’t. By virtue of their position, they lack the objectivity they need to understand their problems. By virtue of their jobs, they lack the skills necessary to engineer a solution to their problems. And by virtue of their daily responsibilities, they lack the vision to consider other possibilities.

“I think Henry Ford once said, ‘If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, “A faster horse!”’ People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”
Steve Jobs

Your customers may not be able to actively help you, but they are still a valuable source of information. Their behavior is feedback in and of itself.

  • If they receive what you build with no comment, it communicates something. It could mean that your solution is so compelling that they don’t need to worry about it anymore. Or it could mean they’re not using your solution because their previous one is easier for them.
  • If they react positively, that doesn’t mean it’s time to pump the breaks. It means whatever you’re doing, you’re doing right. You should be doing more of it.
  • If they receive your product with reluctance (or outright complaints), it means you’ve taken a wrong turn. Don’t wait until they complain about the product or cancel their service. Make sure to identify what’s causing the friction and solve it before it becomes a more significant problem.

“The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.”
Jeff Bezos

It’s an honor to create products for people. Nothing matches the satisfaction you get when you see something you made changing the lives of countless other people. People are leaving it up to you to create something for them. And when they start using it, you know it isn’t because someone forced it on them, but because it makes their life better.


At Olive, we make Artificial Intelligence for doctor’s offices and hospitals that handle administrative tasks, so healthcare employees can do what they do best — take care of their patients. Check out our website to learn more.

Olive (f/k/a CrossChx) Closes $32.8 Million Series D Financing

Olive (f/k/a CrossChx) Closes $32.8 Million Series D Financing

Funding led by Oak HC/FT and Ascension Ventures to enable company to accelerate product development and scale its technology to healthcare organizations nationwide

CrossChx rebrands itself as Olive to reflect commitment to building meaningful AI-enabled robotic process automation solutions for healthcare

COLUMBUS OH, July 30, 2018—Olive, the premier healthcare-focused robotic process automation and artificial intelligence company, announced today that it has raised a $32.8 million Series D round from Oak HC/FT and Ascension Ventures with participation from existing investors. The round will help the company scale its eponymous AI solution, Olive, throughout healthcare organizations nationwide and invest in new capabilities such as Pupil, its process mining tool, that will be launched at alpha sites this summer.

“Hospital operations have grown unsustainably complex as providers must adopt new technologies, workflows, and regulations with increasing frequency in order to provide best-practice care,” added John Kuelper, Investment Director at Ascension Ventures. “Olive’s cutting-edge process mining and automation technologies are enabling our firm’s health system partners to continually optimize clinical and administrative operations so caregivers can spend more of their time on patient care.”

“Olive arrives at a time when healthcare organizations are burdened with improving efficiency, reducing costs, and enhancing the patient experience,” said Sean Lane, Founder and CEO of Olive. “Olive handles repetitive, high-volume tasks, which allows employees to get back to patient care and presents healthcare organizations with value that could not otherwise be realized.”

“As the first healthcare automation solution on the market using AI to streamline repetitive tasks and workflows by working with existing systems, Olive is uniquely positioned to counteract the ever-increasing cost of healthcare and humanize the cumbersome process,” said Billy Deitch, Principal at Oak HC/FT. “We are excited to partner with Olive to deploy its innovative technology at scale.”

Billy Deitch, Principal at Oak HC/FT and John Kuelper, Investment Director at Ascension Ventures, will join the company’s board of directors.

Earlier this year, Olive divested its legacy Connect platform and related products including Connect biometrics, Queue registration kiosk, and the CrossChx Connect mobile app to DHS Group.

ABOUT OLIVE
Olive is a healthcare-specific artificial intelligence and process automation company that empowers healthcare organizations to improve efficiency and patient care while reducing costly administrative errors. Its eponymous AI solution, Olive, acts as the intelligent router between systems and data by automating repetitive, high-volume tasks and workflows, providing true interoperability. Olive has helped healthcare organizations reduce data and billing errors, eliminate denials for no coverage, improve cash collections by reducing days in A/R, and more. To learn more and receive updates, visit www.oliveai.com.

ABOUT OAK HC/FT
Founded in 2014, Oak HC/FT (http://oakhcft.com) is the premier venture growth-equity fund investing in Healthcare Information & Services (“HC”) and Financial Services Technology (“FT”). With $1.1 billion in assets under management, we are focused on driving transformation in these industries by providing entrepreneurs and companies with strategic counsel, board-level participation, business plan execution and access to our extensive network of industry leaders. Oak HC/FT is headquartered in Greenwich, CT with offices in Boston and San Francisco. Follow Oak HC/FT on Twitter, LinkedIn and Medium.

ABOUT ASCENSION VENTURES
Ascension Ventures is a strategic healthcare investment firm with four funds and more than $800 million in capital under management. The firm was launched in 2001 by Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit health system, and today invests on behalf of thirteen of the nation’s leading community health systems. These health system limited partners collectively operate 474 hospitals, have 578,000 employees and generate $88 billion in annual revenue. AV collaborates with these partners to identify, invest in, and support strategically aligned private companies that are transforming the healthcare industry and enhancing the experience for patients, their families, and caregivers.