Where Do Humans Fit into the New Digital Workforce in Healthcare?
When process outsourcing had its initial boom a few decades ago, many felt like they entered a warzone.
The contact center representatives were the front-line “soldiers on headsets,” preparing to engage a long and relentless assault of calls and escalations. They were assigned various shifts across 24/7 coverage, some running long hours on certain days, sometimes with little time for a decent break.
The sheer volume of interaction with different types of personalities, with varying (but repeating) inquiries, and inventive approaches to resolve their concerns proved to be exhaustive. While it was a tumultuous road, in retrospect, it paved the way for deep learning and continuous reshaping of process outsourcing to what we know it as today – advanced & transformative.
One of the things that has always been fascinating in the process outsourcing industry was how well human interaction fused with technology to deliver results not just to the customers, but to the whole business.
Companies would have an intranet or an electronic source of knowledge that contained the process workflow, basic troubleshooting steps, scripts, and sometimes, even the anatomy of the product or device (a picture with description of parts and their functions). These were standard across the department, so the only variance was how the customer would verbalize their concern and how the representatives would deliver the spiel. These processes and spiels were regularly revised depending on the responses and appropriateness.
Today, the process outsourcing industry has evolved dramatically. Digital revolution and innovation drives companies to keep up with the latest trends. What used to be a process managed by a team of 50 or more, can now be handled by a group of less than 35.
This gives rise to the increasing popularity of the “digital workforce.” Workforce used to connote a certain set of employees in a company, assigned to a specific task, as literal manpower. Digital workforce, on the other hand, fills in the gaps of processes by infusing a digital component. The goal is to produce a system using technology and available tools, that will have automation complete the large – but repetitive – tasks while the human workforce will handle more specialized tasks such as those requiring critical thinking, decision making, and providing the client insights.
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), around $77 billion will be spent worldwide by 2022 on applications related to artificial intelligence systems, with healthcare, banking, and retail sectors being the most affected.
You may have already noticed some of the restaurant chains adapting this by setting up touchscreen kiosks (those that show the menu, take your order, and even process your payment – all on your own). Another example is a telecom company that now utilizes an Interactive Voice Recording (IVR), as opposed to previously having a live representative on the other end of the line to handle concerns over the phone.
Automation has also revolutionized healthcare services in the last decade, pushing initiatives to achieve its goal of making health care accessible to as many people as possible. A patient who needed to schedule an appointment with a certain doctor had to dial in to the clinic phone line, wait to be answered by a secretary after a bit of queue, and set an appointment “by paper” then. Now, this can be expedited by having an IVR that empowers patients to set their appointments on their own, at their most convenient time, and get an immediate confirmation, all without a need for another person’s assistance.
Another technological advancement in healthcare services is the rise of wearable health monitors. These come in many forms and sizes, but the most common is probably a wristband that also functions as a watch. This device can monitor your pulse rate, rate of activity, even the calories you have burned, then send this information to your mobile device, an online profile, or with your app permissions, send the data to your healthcare provider. A lot of businesses have now employed digital workforce to embrace automation. The most apparent benefits of adopting this digital transformation are cost savings, improving operational efficiency, and with the demand for automation, attract new customers.
The challenge now is how to integrate the human workforce with artificial intelligence. 72% of workers across the globe see “AI and automation as a technology that will help them do their jobs better, not replace them” according to a survey. Employees in a digitally advanced environment demonstrated a 50% higher index of well-being at work and the companies that employ them increased revenue at six times the rate of their less digitally mature counterparts.
As technologically-agnostic, Shearwater implements measures that incorporate both the efficiency results that automation brings, along with the personal and professional expertise of the “human touch.” Shearwater boasts a dedicated workforce composed of clinicians, the majority of which are nurses. Our talented pool of six sigma healthcare experts along with our HIPAA-compliant facilities and URAC-accredited practices ensure that technological innovation merges with quality and affordable healthcare services.
Shearwater as a trusted solutions provider, is partnering with leaders to set the standard of automation in the healthcare industry. We utilize next-generation technological solutions that seamlessly integrate into your operation. Contact us today for more information.