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Business Process Automation for Paper Intensive Veritical Markets

1 Aug, 2012 By: Randy Dazo, InfoTrends imageSource

Business Process Automation for Paper Intensive Veritical Markets

InfoTrends has conducted countless research studies on the Health Care, Legal, Financial Services and Education industries as they have historically proven to be the most paper intensive. Printing and paper usage among these areas appears to remain steady; however, we are beginning to experience certain shifts away from paper due to cost, behavioral changes; government initiatives and processes redesigned in order to create efficiencies for the business.

businessman standing on a pile of documentsIn health care, seemingly an underserved IT environment, a swift and sweeping transition is underway to create electronic health records mainly due to government initiatives in health care reform. Government plays an important role in this movement because of the amount of money it will be paying through Medicare for the next few decades, as a good portion of the population (the baby boomers), will be retiring and will be eligible for benefits.

Unfortunately the flow of stimulus dollars to the Health and Human Service Department’s health information technology office would end in fiscal 2013. The race is on to implement these new initiatives, as illustrated in the flurry and scramble of rushed EMR installations; with that we also see many of the paper processes still in place.

InfoTrends has been studying the Business Process Automation space for several years and conducted exhaustive research into the bevy of solutions that look to streamline paper business processes through scan and data capture with single function scanners and multi-function devices that scan. Termed “ad hoc”, the increased usage of scan to e-mail, scan to folder and scan to desktop (see chart below) continues at a steady rate, becoming ubiquitous in many organizations.

MFD Devices

In fact, in our most recent research, scan to e-mail was the third most used function for MFD devices (printing and copying still number 1 and number 2) overtaking faxing for the first time in our research for most of these industries. InfoTrends feels that “ad hoc” scanning has served to educate masses of users to the benefits of scan and image capture. bar graph of what your multi functional devices used forWhile “ad hoc” scanning becomes main stream the implementation of workflow solutions for scanning on these same MFD devices is lagging. An opportunity exists in these industries to create deeper connections with these devices, as these solutions provide much higher value, more revenue and stickiness for a provider.

Business process automation is poised as the next big step for implementing solutions that provide unprecedented value for customers. InfoTrends continues to evangelize the value of eliminating paper as part of the business process, finding that often paper acts as an inhibiter and stumbling block to the flow and efficiency within a process. Unfortunately, (or fortunately for some!) paper still is the lowest common denominator in terms of a vehicle used to communicate and process information; and in many cases is still used in business processes today.

BPA Value

To better illustrate this, InfoTrends has come up with a Business Process Automation (BPA) Value index and charting system to understand the complexities, challenges and value for BPA opportunities.

On the Y axis the Process Type is identified by its complexity. Moving up the axis, business opportunities risk indexprocess types transition from Low to High. First is an “Inform” or informational process that is used “to inform” people as part of the business process. An “Inform” process in the health care industry example, may be a HIPAA notification to all its customers about confidentiality and privacy of patient information. This is a simple yet important process that is mandated by the government. The HIPAA information process is still paper-based and sent by way of snail mail to inform its customers.

The next process is “Capture” where the process involves capturing information as part of the business process. An example, again in health care, may be the form a patient fills out at a first time doctor’s visit regarding their medical history. This process is still mostly paper-based and has to be transferred into an EMR system by someone in a doctors’ office.

Lastly, there is the “Decide” or decision process that is the most complex. An example of this may be a doctor referring a patient to visit another specialty physician to get a second opinion and where the second doctor has to make a decision on whether a patient should get a certain procedures based on an initial diagnosis. Many of those processes are still paper-based; from the script (or order) of the first doctor filling out the patient needing a secondary doctor, to any health records or initial diagnostic information the doctor is required to forward in order for the secondary doctor to make a confirmed decision for a procedure.

As we move from left to right on the X Axis, we measure the Process Control. As the process extends from an Internal organization out to an External organization, the process becomes more challenging to control and often times more challenging to implement. In the examples used previously, the capture process of the receptionist inputting the patient information into the system is relatively easy to control because the patient is at the office and the receptionist is an internal person within the organization. They can communicate & ask questions immediately, or check to see if the form is filled out correctly. In the example with the doctor referral process, there are two different organizations within the process that are external to each other making the process much more difficult to control. In many cases their systems may be different and a streamlined automated process, where there is no paper used, may be challenging to implement.

That last example is the extreme where paper transferal and recommendation (decision) is required; and often is sent back to the doctor in a written referral diagnostic form that’s often faxed back or sent by mail. It is also the most challenging to control because they are two separate organizations, and the easiest way, or lowest common denominator, of the transfer of decision making may still be on paper. Both may be using some type of automated EMR system that is eliminating paper, yet many of the business processes are still conducted using paper, etc.

On the other hand we are seeing other areas where these processes are being streamlined. Prescriptions for pharmacies from doctors’ visits are eliminating paper by utilizing a common system and process. This is still an Inform (easy) process from a complexity standpoint but is much harder to control since these are two separate external organizations completing a business process. Some doctors and pharmacies are participating in this automated process and some are not. As one moves up the Index from lower left to upper right, the complexity and implementation of these types of processes are more challenging, however at the same time, they are also much more valuable to different stakeholders if processes can be automated.

Even in the health care industry where millions of dollars are being invested in patient records systems, there are still many opportunities like these that are paper-based. It is identifying them and creating the right solution that solves a business pain point and coming to market with that solution the fastest that will win in the Paper BPA game.

As part of a continued commitment to business process automation, InfoTrends is currently conducting an in-depth research study on Business Process Automation Opportunities within each of the four vertical markets mentioned. In this study we will be talking to key stakeholders in paper intensive business processes to understand the opportunities, adoption rates and barriers. We’ll also map out each of these processes on to the BPA Index to understand the most interesting and / or challenging opportunities for organizations. This will help our audiences with business development and marketing initiatives around solutions and key markets as we look to identify the next opportunities for the office equipment market. 

Randy Dazo is Director, Solutions and Services, Office Group, InfoTrends. InfoTrends is a leading worldwide market research & strategic consulting firm for the digital imaging and document solutions industry, providing research, analysis, forecasts & advice to help clients understand market trends, identify opportunities, and develop strategies to grow their businesses. At www.infotrends.com

About the Author: Randy Dazo, InfoTrends

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