DATA, ANALYTICS & AUTOMATION for better healthcare

The grassroots movement pioneering intelligent automation in US healthcare systems

How bi-monthly, ad-hoc Zoom meetings became a trailblazing in-person summit paving the way for intelligent automation in healthcare systems

In 2021, Dianne Kokotoff, an Executive Director in Digital Operations, was about a year and a half into implementing a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) program at Wellstar Health System, one of Georgia’s largest healthcare systems. She was managing seven automation teams and had two processes under her belt, but she had a lot more knowledge to gain—automation is a relatively green space for healthcare. “I wanted to talk to someone who was basically doing my job in another healthcare system. And that’s how it started,” says Dianne.

Enter Suzi Dack, Senior IT Director at Banner Health, which serves more than 1 million patients across six states. At the time Dianne and Suzi connected, Banner Health had leveraged RPA for two years. “When we began talking, it just gelled. Let’s share the knowledge we’ve gained through our mistakes and successes and collaborate,” says Suzi.

What began as two peers connecting to discuss their experiences implementing intelligent automation in their respective healthcare systems quickly snowballed. Suddenly, over 180 peers from 110 companies joined bi-monthly knowledge-sharing Zoom sessions.

This type of collaboration is “a unique situation,” explains Suzi. With automation in healthcare systems generally unfledged, understanding what others are doing can be immensely helpful, even though there is a lot of variability when it comes to this type of work. “It’s the concept we share,” says Suzi. Dianne agreed, saying, “Everybody has a different system. Everybody has different processes and company initiatives.”

Most healthcare systems that seek automation solutions are weighed down with low-value processes that cost a lot of time and money. “Dealing with this level of redundant, tedious administration has become a laborious process that is not necessarily improving care, but definitely bloating the cost of healthcare,” says Bryan Whiteside, Vice President at Amitech Solutions, an automation and analytics company focused solely on healthcare.

For example, consider an employee who gets locked out of an electronic health records system and requires a password reset. This costs an organization about $70 per reset and makes up about 40% of calls to any given help desk—and is a prime place to start automating. “There is so much low-hanging fruit on the administrative side,” says Bryan.

Automation is more than just eliminating these types of burdensome tasks. To be successful, it must be a strategic program with top-down buy-in. “We try to attach all of our automation use cases specifically to our company initiatives so we can prove we are adding value back into Banner, whether it’s from a financial or direct patient care perspective,” says Suzi. The same goes for Wellstar. “I map our automation to our values,” Dianne adds. “This creates buy-in. When you can map your work back to your strategic initiatives or mission, it drives value to your department and it gains leadership approval and insight into what you’re doing. This is what you want to do to be successful,” explains Suzi.

The knowledge-sharing group will come together this month at Banner Health’s headquarters in Mesa, Arizona, for the in-person, inaugural Healthcare Intelligent Automation Summit: The Road to Innovation. The summit has more than 125 attendees ready to collaborate and learn over four days of programming.

Kim Anderson, the IT product owner on Banner Health’s intelligent automation team, says the summit is all about getting ideas. “Everybody is doing something different. What else can we be doing that we haven’t thought of yet?” There will be a mix of different roles and levels in attendance, including vendors, users, and top-level executives who are ready to share their experiences.

“The exciting thing about this conference is that it has come about organically from the people on the ground,” says Bryan, who will head to Arizona to participate. Automation is technical in nature, but real change and innovation are driven by people with common goals. “Ultimately,” says Kim, “it’s about helping your patients.”

To learn more about the Healthcare Intelligent Automation Summit: The Road to Innovation or to understand what automation can do for your healthcare system, get in touch.