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Dell Services: Complementing FTEs with Proprietary AFTE Technology

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This is the fourth in a series of blogs on vendors’ RPA initiatives in the insurance sector.

We now turn our attention to Dell Services, which has adopted an automation focus across its life and healthcare insurance BPS processes.

Focusing on healthcare payer & provider and life insurance process automation

In 2016, life insurance accounts for around 30% of Dell Services’ overall BPS revenues and healthcare payer accounts for approximately 35%, with healthcare provider making up the balance. Dell Services takes a platform-led approach to its BPS:

  1. It has its own LifeSys platform for life insurance, on to which it migrates a client’s book of business and provides administration services in its own environment; or

  2. It partners with a third party supplier for platform capability and tailors it to fit the needs of the book of business, from which it can then provide services, e.g. Dell Services uses partner ikaSystems for its healthcare payer platform needs, on top of which it layers its Dell Business Process Management Suite (DBPMS) tools. The tools include:

  3. An enterprise dashboard: including KPI tracking and trend analysis for SLA metrics

  4. Client extranet: including an issues log

  5. Queue management: including skill-set based routing and priority allocation.

Automation Ideation led by BPS delivery teams

Unlike other providers, who tend to be led by their clients with respect to automation, the process at Dell  Services starts with an internal ‘ideas generation’ stage, achieved either through Dell’s ‘LEAP’ (Listen, Engage, Act, Progress) portal where agents are able to log ideas, together with perceived benefits (and are rewarded if their ideas are selected) or via the Business Process Improvement (BPI) team who carry out a ‘click study’ to identify ways in which the process could be re-engineered or automated. In line with its peers, an internal concern about increasing automation was the inevitable change in job composition; for this reason, the LEAP portal is considered particularly important to ensure employees are involved and engaged in driving the initiative forward. In addition, supervisors are targeted with an annual 5%-15% AFTE target. Once an idea has been selected, a feasibility study takes place before the idea is tested and bots are deployed by the central AFTE automation team. Bot management is then passed to the operations team while the bots are monitored through the central bot command center.

Balancing AFTEs with FTEs

In line with the market, Dell Services has concentrated its efforts on applying automation to high volume processes, which account for ~30% to 35% of its overall book of business. To achieve this, it is targeting the introduction of ~300-400 AFTEs year on year, though this is not a static number since clients are on-boarded throughout the year. The overall aim is to achieve around 6% productivity improvement per annum.

Although Dell Services does use third-party RPA platforms, it has developed its own “AFTE” platform incorporated within the Dell Business Process Management Platform. AFTE bots rather than third-party bots are typically deployed where the Dell BPMS platform is already being used or is to be used.

High volume processes (in which AFTEs are being used to varying extents) within each of Dell Services’ insurance services include:

  • Life insurance:
    • Data entry and indexing: freeing up FTEs to carry out other activities such as policy holder services where less work is typically carried out by AFTEs – though this is something that Dell is looking to change and where Dell is investing in automation initiatives
    • Policy issuing: currently, the work is handled 50% by FTEs and 50% by AFTEs, with Dell seeking greater tool maturity before it is able to drive greater automation here
    • Premium accounting
  • Healthcare payer:
    • In-bound calls: FTE-led
    • Adjustments: FTE-led
    • Adjudication: 50% AFTE, 50% FTE
    • Claim processing: FTE-led
    • Member enrolment: FTE-led
    • Provider maintenance: 50% AFTE, 50% FTE
  • Healthcare provider:
    • File download: exclusively AFTE
    • Medical coding: 50% AFTE, 50% FTE
    • Change entry: FTE-led
    • Payment posting: AFTE-led
    • Credit balancing: 50% AFTE, 50% FTE
    • Accounts receivables: FTE-led

A simple example to illustrate some of the quantifiable benefits that have been achieved through automation can be seen through the work that took place to automate call center operations at one of Dell’s life insurance clients. Prior to the introduction of automation, call center agents were required to use a number of screens to capture customer information, which often resulted in comparatively low accuracy, and a high handling time. The system was not user-friendly and baseline training typically took around 10 weeks. Ultimately SLAs were being missed. To address this, Dell condensed the numerous screens into one screen and introduced rule-based processes to ensure no manual calculations were required to complete the form, unlike previously, where up to six manual calculations were required. As a result, AHT fell from 471 seconds to 374 and training took ~7 weeks, as opposed to 10. The quality of data capture increased from 88% to 95% and the average time taken to update notes fell from 110 seconds to 15 seconds¸ because the system was largely able to perform updates itself.

Plans to Implement Machine Learning within Dell BPM Platform

Over the last four years, Dell has extended its capabilities from simple script based-processing, to the development of AFTEs, including an associated AFTE command center. Going forward, the intention is to incorporate a self-learning capability, implement technologies such as NLP and machine learning within the Dell BPMS platform, and to secure end-to-end automation in the processes that are already largely being carried out by AFTEs, e.g. indexing.

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