In a world seemingly being taken over by new Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, where does Robotic Process Automation (RPA) fit in? We sat down with Rajiv Chawla, VP of Delivery, to better understand just what Robotic Process Automation is, how it helps, who it helps, and where the technology is heading.  

  1. What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?
    Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are related but distinct technologies. RPA is a software technology that makes it easy to build, deploy, and manage software robots that emulate humans’ actions interacting with digital systems and software. These robots can perform a wide range of rule-based tasks by mimicking the way humans interact with applications through a user interface. RPA is designed to automate repetitive, mundane tasks that don’t require decision-making or the interpretation of unstructured data, such as data entry, invoice processing, or basic customer service queries.RPA can be particularly beneficial for automating repetitive tasks, improving efficiency, reducing errors, and freeing up human resources for more complex and strategic activities. Additionally, RPA offers the significant advantage of enabling tasks to be performed beyond the typical 8am-5pm workday; RPA can operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  2. When it comes to health insurance exchanges, in what use cases would RPA be most effective?
    One of the significant tasks crucial for people to obtain health coverage is verifying documents submitted to the exchange, whether through online uploads or paper mail. On average, about one-third of enrollees typically must submit documents for verification during open enrollment. Currently, for paper mail the process involves an agent identifying the applicant, creating a ticket in the work queue, uploading the documents to the household. Then the manual process begins for documents uploaded directly in the portal by consumers or the documents we received in mail uploaded by agents; which includes opening a ticket, locating the household within the exchange eligibility system and verifying data, which could involve issues related to income, Social Security numbers, or citizenship/legal presence to name some.This process is highly time-consuming and can become burdensome, particularly during open enrollment periods. Utilizing robotic automation, alongside technologies like optical character recognition (OCR) to extract content from documents, can significantly streamline this process. Automation facilitates quicker verification for consumers, ensuring they can obtain coverage promptly.
  3. Would RPA’s use in exchanges translate to other HHS verticals such as Medicaid, SNAP, and/or TANF?
    In the above scenario we have shown one of the key use cases that can be used for a health benefit exchange. When we look at it from an HHS perspective, their use cases would be similar but perhaps more complex. In the HHS world, eligibility systems vary widely from agency to agency; it could be a modernized platform or could be an antiquated green screen that workers need to fetch or input data to complete the processing of an application. In such situations, a caseworker could begin an application process on one platform, and then delegate the task to a robot. The robot can then log into the antiquated systems to retrieve all the necessary information swiftly, delivering it back to the caseworker within seconds.Another way agencies can leverage RPA is with paper applications; most applications are submitted via a paper application and a case worker then has to manually transfer/input the data into the eligibility system. This can be easily automated with RPA.
  4. Are you seeing RPA being used anywhere else in government agencies?
    In the context of government agencies, RPA can be applied to a wide range of tasks, such as data entry, document processing, form filling, report generation, and more. For example, agencies might use RPA to automate administrative tasks related to processing paper applications/forms using OCR to upload data into state systems, managing records, or conducting routine audits.
  5. What’s next for RPA?
    When dealing with legacy systems, technological advancements, including RPA, present opportunities to enhance data capture and updates. The opportunities here are huge; repetitive tasks like adding a baby/person, change of address, change of income, add a pregnancy etc., can be automated and help reduce backlogs in the call centers for more complex cases. 

Robotic Process Automation stands as a pivotal innovation within today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape, particularly in the context of health insurance exchanges and broader governmental applications. Through practical implementations, it’s clear that RPA’s role in automating tedious, rule-based tasks not only enhances operational efficiency but also significantly improves service delivery and accuracy. As we look to the future, the integration of RPA with AI and machine learning promises even greater advancements, signaling a transformative period where automation could redefine the capabilities and efficiencies of public sector services, making them more accessible, reliable, and user-friendly for all.