Scaling Automation: Two Proven Paths to Success

Lessons from two leading hospital systems show how to overcome the obstacles to automation.

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Jon Krause/

Organizations faced with a large volume of repetitive manual processes often look to automation to free up their employees to work on more productive tasks. The challenge, however, is deciding how to implement automation in a way that best suits the organization. Which processes should be prioritized for automation? And should the effort be led by technical experts or process experts? A close look at how two hospital systems adopted automation can provide clues to what approaches might work best for other organizations.

In 2018, the finance department of the Mass General Brigham hospital system in Boston was facing a worsening bottleneck in keeping track of the providers in its network. Front-line employees needed to gather up-to-date information on an increasing number of health care providers, but the process was slow and inefficient, requiring three separate hospital administrators to manually collect, aggregate, and export data through a mind-numbing series of clicks.

To help automate this and future processes, the hospital system established a new automation team by recruiting developers to build and manage automation tools and a process specialist from its finance department. The specialist worked with the finance department to restructure its workflow in a way that would lend itself to automation and with the automation team to build a tool that would fit into the new workflow. The tool they developed collected data on providers automatically and organized the information in a way that highlighted the actions the finance team would need to take to move the process forward. This liberated front-line finance employees to do higher-value work and allowed for scalability to manage the expected growth in the number of health care providers in the system.



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