RPA in Healthcare Podcast
Epidemiology Use Cases
The following is a transcription from Episode 15 of The Orange Chair Podcast, “RPA in Healthcare: Epidemiology Use Cases”
In this episode, we continue our RPA in Healthcare series with Anna Twomey, Blue Prism‘s Senior Solutions Advisor for Healthcare Americas and KeyMark’s Sam Whitten, Director of RPA Sales. They discuss how RPA can help epidemiologists with the current landscape of COVID-19 vaccine distribution and contact tracing. This episode is a continuation of our RPA in Healthcare series, so be sure to check out our last episode, RPA in Healthcare: Revenue Cycle Use Cases.
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Alex Frazier (16s): Hi, everybody. Welcome back to The Orange Chair Podcast. Today in the orange chair, we have two special guests. Sam Whitten and Anna Twomey. They are here to talk about RPA and how that works with Epidemiology. I want to go ahead and pitch to you guys, tell me who you are and what you do.
Sam Whitten (35s): Thanks! This is Sam Whitten as you said. I work with KeyMark and I’ve been with KeyMark since March of 2020. I’m the Director of Sales for RPA. I came to KeyMark after three years at Blue Prism where I was lucky enough to work with the Anna for those three years. I’m looking forward to this conversation.
Anna Twomey (57s): Thanks, Sam. I’m Anna Twomey and I’m the Senior Systems Advisor for Public and Private Healthcare in North America for Blue Prism. I have quite an extensive background in public health and private healthcare. And when I came to Blue Prism and I saw the RPA technology that was available, I was blown away with the thoughts of where this was going to lead Healthcare in the very near future. I wasn’t anticipating that we would go directly into a pandemic, but I was equipped to handle moving toward that market and being able to share some of the fantastic opportunities with our public health constituents and doctors, the nurses as well.
Alex Frazier (1m 48s): I want to talk about Epidemiology and RPA and how RPA can help the epidemiologists. How do you guys see RPA playing a role with epidemiologist?
RPA and Epidemiology
Anna Twomey (2m 3s): I put in about 23 years in healthcare, and I’ve served in many roles from bioterrorism preparedness to pandemic awareness as the Healthcare subject matter expert, as well as a private healthcare consultant. But one of the biggest focus I’ve had in the 20 year span, was working as the bio-terrorism administration manager for the fifth largest city in the nation, and that was during 9/11 [September 11th, 2001] and Hurricane Katrina.
At that time, my staff consisted of 20 epidemiologists, data analysts and systems engineers in a nation in crisis, similar to what we’re facing now with the pandemic of COVID-19. I knew whenever the pandemic plan started to roll out that there were a lot of anomalies that epidemiologists would be facing and the things that they would need to do to prepare for the outbreak, as well as gathering data and gathering information that they need to do their analysis of the impact.
My first thought and my first strategy was to reach out to the CDC and some of my contacts there and start asking them “what do the epidemiologists need in this time of stress that is going to better assist them in making decisions looking at the outbreak and finding ways for a cure or getting to the overall eradication of this particular disease and its widespread anomalies that are going on right now.” And the feedback was, “anything that you can do to reduce their stress at this point in time.”
We’re trying to give them better tools to manage the data, give them better ways to interpret the data and be able to get their reports out as quickly as possible so that they can do risk mitigation in the cities and in the counties that they reside over.
Sam Whitten (3m 60s): Because of our relationship with Blue Prism, we’re looking at KeyMark to be one of the implementers of the solution that Blue Prism has come up with and Anna has been a part of it. We are out there talking with the epidemiologists and promoting the process that Anna’s speaking of, and we would be the implementation team and the support team for those doctors and epidemiologists to help them ease some of those pains that they are talking about.
Anna Twomey (4m 35s): KeyMark is our enablement that allows all of these technologies to be implemented and expanded into the world of public health. We’ve been meeting with a lot of County, State and local governments looking at the challenges that they’re facing now and providing for them to tools that they need to change their 80/20 rule.
RPA and Contact Tracing
Anna Twomey (5m 28s): And that’s really what it’s all about, whenever we look at how to reduce the mundane tasks that everyday epidemiologists meet and the repetitive, the error prone, endless data gathering like sending emails, updating statuses, and doing contact tracing for patients or even mobile triage.
Some of the benefits that we’ve seen is that RPA is able to supply mobile triage directly to the patients and the constituents in the community, and ask if they’re exhibiting signs. This is key to contact tracing. This was also key to what was to follow whenever we start looking at being able to send out a vaccine and trace the vaccine and how far they have to go out to penetrate the areas that are most effected.
When we talk about contact tracing and the digital workers, and to get a little more specific as to what we actually do and what the digital workers can actually do, is gather contact information and predictively link contacts through a range of algorithms and map that to a visualization map so that you cannot only see your clusters, but you can see where potential other individuals have been impacted by one positive case that comes through from the lab that says, “this person has tested and they now are positive.”
Through that connection and any of their family members or local constituents that have come in contact with them, we can geographically map that and see those connections. We can quickly alert them with digital workers and say, “there’s a possibility that you have been exposed.” We can give them a risk mitigation documentation and let them know what their next steps should be.
As the next phase is starting to roll out a vaccination, that same type of data can also be used to contact those patients that we see visually and let them know that there is a vaccination available and even start to set up vaccination registration for certain constituents.
RPA and Vaccination Rollout
Anna Twomey (7m 14s): The beauty of this is being able to collect information about their age ranges and/or find out which phase of the vaccination they are going to be in. Those that are of an older population and those that are considered first responders would be your phase one and two all the way down to the younger generation that hasn’t been the most impacted by this disease.
We’re looking at being able to not only gather the information geographically, but display the information and help the epidemiologists create reports and risk mitigation off of those efforts.
Alex Frazier (7m 52s): I know that you mentioned earlier in your explanation that there are a number of mundane tasks that come with all of those processes that you were just mentioning. Why is it important to implement a digital worker to do that?
Importance of Digital Workers
Anna Twomey (8m 10s): The biggest benefit that RPA brings to the table is the ability to use robotics as a supplement to the human individual that’s doing the work. They wouldn’t have to spend all of their time sending out emails or contacting those patients where they have to spend hours on the phone, or even contacting the labs to get lab results back. Handing those tasks that are repetitive and mundane and time consuming for the most part off to a digital worker or a robot that is able to handle some of that task management, frees up their time to really analyze what’s going on with the disease and start to build reports around what is happening with a disease.
Their real job is to help us to pinpoint what’s going on with the disease and be able to get that information out to the people. If all of their time is spent on the phone or collecting data and information and putting spreadsheets together or moving that information from one location to another or waiting on a report that seems never ending, that wastes all their time. It slows them down tremendously. It’s important to be able to have another resource to hand that off to.
Sam Whitten (9m 35s): The one thing about this – and really when we were talking about this particular topic or anything within the healthcare space -the ultimate goal here is to allow the doctor’s to do what the doctor’s are good at. And that’s taking care of the patients and making sure that the patients are getting the care that they need. Anything we can do from a RPA perspective to take a lot of that mundane stuff off their plate so that they can concentrate on the things that they need to be doing, is a benefit to all.
Alex Frazier (10m 13s): Being able to alleviate some of that pressure for people that are already being pulled in a hundred different directions during these times with what’s going on and be able to give them some sort of relief by having a digital worker takeover tasks that take a lot of time and take a lot of attention, but not necessarily add a lot of value seems like a great benefit. When thinking about contact tracing, and I know that you mentioned this, what are some ways that RPA can be a benefit to contact tracing?
RPA and Patient Information Security
Anna Twomey (10m 52s): There’s multiple ways that RPA influences what happens with contact tracing. One is gathering the patient information that is specific but yet, not disclosing anyone’s private health information. The digital workers are masking all that information and following HIPAA guidelines, which are built into the digital workers. That allows for us to collaborate without actually disclosing pertinent information and keeping it secure. This is one advantage that digital workers bring; they are not humans interacting with data. It’s not humans looking at the data, taking pictures of the data and moving it around.
Even if we’re looking at the information of tracing one patient to a potential exposed contact in another location, and we don’t have to expose any of the information or even the phone numbers. The digital workers can mask that information, yet they can make a text message to those local constituents to allow them to take action on their own healthcare. So it puts it back into the hands of the person that needs to be contacted, and needs to take personal action.
Their interaction with a digital worker is not exactly the same as it would be if a human was asking “we’re have you been, and what have you done over the last 10 days or week.” This puts the action back in their mobile possession. They can say “I understand that I need to be tested, but where do I find a location?” The digital worker can send them a location that they need to go to and things like that. There’s a lot of different tasks that we can hand to a digital worker that can be handled that even people are hesitant to do with human interaction.
Another thing with contact tracing is the ability to capture information directly off of some of the testing sites and labs. We are able to collect that data and information and by using AI, we can associate that with other people that have been exposed or have had positive tests. That’s another key element of contact tracing that is handled by RPA.
Alex Frazier (13m 13s): As our time comes to a close today, are there any final thoughts that you guys have? Is there anything that maybe I did not ask or anything that you would like to elaborate on?
Anna Twomey (13m 23s): I would just like to say that I’m really excited about the progress that RPA is making in the industry and the impact that we are having by working with a lot of our health departments and our public health departments, as well as our hospitals, our labs, and making progress in the field of pandemic outbreak. It’s been an opportunity to experience a change that technology brings to a space, especially in these key times. Whenever everyone is so concerned about the spread of the disease and how quickly it’s spreading and the deaths that are occurring, it kind of brings it back to reality.
We are really truly impacting what’s going on with boots on the ground. We are putting bots in seats for boosts on the streets. And that makes an impact on how quickly we’re able to get a handle on the disease and save lives. More than anything I’d like to ask that everybody continue to follow the guidelines that you’ve been given from CDC and follow through with the messages that you received from digital workers and protect yourself and make your phone calls on a regular basis and stay safe.
Sam Whitten (14m 40s): The ultimate goal here is to give the frontline workers the ability to do their job and to do it well. Using RPA allows them to take a lot of that mundane stuff off their plates so that they can concentrate on getting people better and making sure that the disease is not spreading in an overall manner. I appreciate the ability to work with Blue Prism and Anna to get this done. And we’re very excited to be a part of it.
Alex Frazier (15m 15s): Thank you both so much for joining us today on this podcast.
Well, that’s all that we have for you guys today. Thank you so much for listening to this podcast. The Orange Chair Podcast is brought to you by KeyMark. If you like to this podcast, please leave us a rating or like and subscribe to our podcast channels where ever you guys are listening to podcasts, and you can even follow us on Instagram and Facebook. And we would love to hear from you. This podcast is produced by Greg Aiken, Clay Tuten and me, your host Alex Frazier. Until next time, bye guys.