In April, the State of Texas launched a coordinated effort to handle a surge of new payment activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To accommodate the increased workload, Accenture, which administers the Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership (TMHP) program on behalf of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, immediately called on its robotics process automation (RPA) group to plan an expansion of its digital worker program.
The current activity is an extension of RPA that began in 2018, when Accenture began evaluating applications of the technology and providers. RPA is a productivity tool that can be used to automatically carry out steps within a business process. Accenture wanted to use RPA to continue to deliver high-quality results and streamline largely clerical processes, thus freeing professional staff members of TMHP to focus on a variety of other critical business activities.
After selecting Blue Prism’s RPA in late 2018, Accenture launched its first RPA implementation for TMHP in 2019. That project addressed numerous aspects of provider enrollment. Hundreds of providers seek to enroll in Medicaid every day, sparking a verification process that spans multiple organizations and databases as TMHP employees seek to validate the provider’s participation in Medicare, conduct the necessary verifications, and confirm the provider’s medical license with the appropriate medical board. Provider enrollment specialists were performing 600 to 1,000 searches per day.
“We want to apply RPA to any repetitive activity involving high-volume data entry that must be high quality,” said James Hall, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Team Lead for Accenture at TMHP.
RPA is used across a variety of departments at TMHP, including but not limited to:
- Provider Enrollment
- Reference Data Management
- Vendor Management
- Accounts Payable
- Accounts Receivable
- Claims Processing
- Reporting and Operations
Blue Prism automates end-to-end business processes, rather than discrete tasks. Its Connected-RPA platform enables organizations to provide employees with drag-and-drop access to a growing range of cloud, artificial intelligence, and cognitive capabilities that can be used to create low-cost software robots, or digital workers, that can automate processes around the clock. Because Blue Prism generates real-time reporting that acts as a log for every process step, change, and any other event, agencies are assured of an irrefutable audit trail.
“Many government agencies are exploring – and like TMHP – realizing the benefits of incorporating a digital workforce into their organizations,” said LC Cook, Vice President, Public Sector Sales and Alliances, Blue Prism. “Not only are they realizing tremendous efficiencies, but they’re also using RPA to meet our cultural need to do more with less.”
Gartner says RPA software spending is on pace to total $2.4 billion in 2022, and that by the end of 2022, 85 percent of large and very large organizations will have deployed some form of RPA. In July 2019, Gartner named Blue Prism a leader in its first RPA Magic Quadrant.
RPA helps Accenture handle increases in transaction processing without overburdening staff or requiring additional workers. For example, the TMHP recovery audit team recently used Blue Prism to process a surge of 20,000 transactions in a one-month period. Scalability is a key Blue Prism differentiator that allowed the agency to ramp up quickly.
“With RPA, we were able to successfully process the increased number of transactions,” Hall said. “It’s a huge benefit.”
Quality control has been a huge benefit as well, by reducing the possibility of human error. With workers inputting hundreds of transactions a day, quality at scale is critical. Blue Prism’s automation allows the team to continue to deliver these high-quality outcomes by combining TMHP’s industry knowledge with the powerful capabilities of software robots to drive increased throughput while maintaining high quality.
At TMHP, the RPA group has focused on planning ahead for an anticipated increase in requests for help by spinning up additional Blue Prism licenses so that it can scale automation to meet program needs.
“One of the reasons we chose Blue Prism is because it works well with a variety of systems – both new systems and legacy systems. We’re definitely taking advantage of Blue Prism’s capabilities,” Hall said.
Soon, Accenture will shift from its operational projects with RPA, such as provider enrollments and claims payments, to technology projects. For example, RPA is used during the software development lifecycle. The RPA group is exploring ways to verify data before it’s promoted to the next deployment level and ways to do deployment in lower environments. The group is also looking at opportunities to handle routine operating procedures, such as updating databases or sending notifications to other teams when processes are complete. “The lessons we learned from the operational side, we think we can leverage on the technology team,” Hall said.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has shown that enterprises need an adaptable, intelligent automation platform to respond and succeed in a rapidly evolving public service environment, Cook noted. Outside of Texas Medicaid, to aid the front-line response to the health emergency, Blue Prism’s COVID-19 Response Program has initiated dozens of RPA projects for public benefit. Examples include assistance with government-mandated initiatives, call centers, application processing, workforce planning, and community protection.
“A digital workforce that is scalable, centralized, and secure can execute changes to organizational processes rapidly, enabling human workers to focus on critical analysis and decision making,” Cook said. “We’re proud that Blue Prism can harness the collaborative potential of humans and digital workers to address our biggest challenges.”