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Robots Speed Up Support to Veterans

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  • Published on: February 21, 2021

When a Veteran’s service-connected disability status changes, the amount billed for health care services also changes. This often results in adjusting charges previously billed to the Veteran. While the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has worked to streamline this process over the past decade, keeping up with the sheer volume of claims is one of VA’s top challenges. Recently, a team of technical architects and operational leaders helped VA staff manage the claims volume, directly improving the Veteran and staff experience.

To expedite the adjustment of charges, the Enterprise Architecture team in VA’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) worked with a Veterans Health Administration Revenue Operations project team to design, develop, and deploy an enterprise Robotic Process Automation solution, with initial results showing a 400% improvement in processing time.

Rising to the challenge of serving 2.2 million Veterans with required copays, the teams overcame administrative and security hurdles. They successfully developed a Robotic Process Automation integration process — a noteworthy technological feat in a large organization that manages confidential information.

Robotic Process Automation is the technology that allows users to configure computer software, or a “robot,” to emulate human activities by interacting with applications the same way a person does. This automation can mimic human user actions in a secure and regulated manner, and it can log in to applications, move files and folders, copy and paste data, fill in forms, extract data from documents, and more.

In 2018, the Office of Management and Budget mandated that federal agencies use Robotic Process Automation to reduce the burden of low-value work. In early 2020, Revenue Operations initiated the development and implementation of the technology in the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) test environment, supported by the North Central Consolidated Patient Account Center team. To implement Robotic Process Automation at every VistA site, Revenue Operations needed support from OIT to overcome the architecture and security concerns for an implementation of that magnitude.

Revenue Operations oversees $3.83 billion of billing and collections to third parties and insurance companies for health care provided on behalf of Veterans. Approximately 3,700 VA personnel support billing and collection activities. Revenue Operations is already seeing positive results from the robotic processes. Thanks to the automations, in October 2020, all new adjustments for the month were complete, allowing automation to start working through a large backlog that would otherwise require staff resources. Instead, staff members have focused more on higher impact tasks requiring a human’s manual effort. According to Ms. Susan Reed, Executive Director of Revenue Operations, “Not only is Robotic Process Automation technology allowing the team to accomplish more work faster, but it is also contributing to the ultimate goal of delivering a higher quality Veteran experience.”

Robotic Process Automation has great potential to reduce costs by automating manual and tedious tasks, enabling employees to invest more time and talent into strategic activities. The expected return on this technological investment for streamlining the charge adjustment process is approximately $4.5 million over three years.

While implementing Robotic Process Automation will expedite and streamline the charge adjustment process, it is also a significant step toward improving performance across VA. This type of automation is one way the Architecture and Engineering Service supports OIT’s digital transformation. Architects develop VA’s IT architecture and framework to align with overarching goals to provide exceptional customer service to VA stakeholders, support IT modernization, and ensure seamless and secure interoperability that protects Veterans’ information.

Our commitment to digital and IT transformation is shaped by daily dedication to customer service and the close collaboration of our workforce, managers, and leaders. Ready to join us in improving Veterans’ care? Check out all current information and technology career opportunities on DigitalVA. You can also contact VA’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer at 512-326-6600, Monday thru Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST or by submitting a resume to VACareers@va.gov.

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Page last updated on December 20, 2021

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