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Photo courtesy of the participants

At an online roundtable hosted by SS&C Blue Prism and HIMSS for both public and private healthcare organisations in Singapore, Jesse Tutt, Program Director, IT Intelligent Automation at Alberta Health Services (AHS), gave his insights into the success factors behind his organization’s digital transformation.

As the largest healthcare provider in Canada, folic acid dose early pregnancy AHS supports 4.5 million people across the Alberta region. Around 180,000 employees and contractors use its IT systems, including Epic, to which AHS is currently migrating.

While the provider’s digital transformation stretches back 16 years, it began implementing SS&C Blue Prism in 2021. “We had clear direction from the organization to invest heavily and to focus a lot more effort into process automation,” says Tutt.

The program includes automation for HR, finance, contracting, procurement and supply management, IT and others. It also encompasses a wide range of tools and technologies, such as process mining, rule-based automation, digital forms and artificial intelligence, orchestrated by SS&C Blue Prism ServiceNow. 

To date, the initiative has saved AHS almost 35,000 hours, equivalent to just over 17 full-time employees and releasing resources for patient care. “Freeing up staff is our number one outcome, and our focus is always to free up capacity for frontline care,” Tutt confirms.

A key element is accurate and transparent reporting on progress with each automation initiative, keeping everyone fully informed on what has been achieved, when the benefits will be delivered and what proportion of each process will be automated.

Success factors

Tutt also attributes the success of the program in part to having clear principles in place from the very beginning. These include delivering value quickly, avoiding redevelopment and reusing components, business ownership, automating tasks employees do not enjoy, visible executive sponsorship and effective business continuity planning.

“Organisational change management is extremely important,” adds Tutt. “We worked through communications and awareness sessions to pick out resistors and convert them by sharing data and information to convert them into being early adopters.”

Identifying the projects to automate is another vital step, and is managed by sponsors in the business. “We have a governance committee that oversees the priorities they identify to make sure that they support our strategic goals, but we’ve had a lot of success moving this process out to business owners.”

While AHS started its automation program with a series of processes in the back office, it plans to expand out into clinical processes in the near future.

Jovana Djapa, Head of Customer Success at SS&C Blue Prism APAC, commented that the back office, which is the powerhouse of patient processing, is a good place to start. “You’re looking at the whole patient journey from booking an appointment to discharging a patient. Intelligent automation can bridge the gaps between the legacy systems that healthcare providers use, and that don’t really have native integration capabilities.”

When asked about specific use cases AHS has worked on, Tutt said they have tended towards automating data exchanges, such as one between Epic and core finance systems, or from patient data on EMS systems to Epic. “It’s those monotonous, repetitive use cases we focus on,” he said.

In response to a question on building a pipeline, Tutt warned against the notion of sending out “an organization-wide email asking for ideas. The capacity in your team needs to be justified by the benefits achieved.”

With a final word on success factors, Djapa agreed with the need to take a measured approach: “We usually work with providers to first understand their transformation vision and strategic priorities, then use process mining to identify the processes to automate, along with our Robotic Operating Model (ROM)”.

Download our white paper here to read about use cases for intelligent automation in healthcare, and contact us to discover how intelligent automation can be leveraged in healthcare, across different functions from back to front-end.

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