Digital document transformation: How Optum increased efficiency and managed compliance risk by digitizing and automating its contracting processes

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Healthcare organizations must embrace technological solutions that digitize documents and streamline the workflow surrounding the initiation, changes and entire lifecycle of contracts and agreements.

During a July webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Salesforce and Conga, Sunil Masand, vice president and general manager of healthcare and life sciences at Conga, moderated a discussion involving two digital transformation experts. They described the state of the industry, the importance of digital document transformation and how Optum has successfully streamlined its contract management processes:

  • Rob Rowe, senior director, contracts administration, Optum
  • Sindhu Pandit, MD, Global Clinical Lead and Industry advisor, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Salesforce

Four key insights from the discussion:

1. The global pandemic is accelerating the technological paradigm shift long needed in healthcare. Antiquated manual processes are a major contributor to high healthcare costs. "Reducing costs starts with moving paper-laden operational workflows to digital backbones," Dr. Pandit said. "A silver lining of the pandemic has been the digital acceleration and adoption we're seeing across healthcare." While this paradigm shift has been underway for years, the pandemic has forced new business models, policy changes and better data access to the forefront. "We're finally seeing significant movement toward preventative, personalized, decentralized, empowered and value-based initiatives," Dr. Pandit added.

2. Agreement transformation promises to reduce costs, improve efficiencies and user experiences and streamline data management. "Healthcare today is inundated with documents," Mr. Masand said. Multiple stakeholders — providers, patients, payers, contract administrators and caregivers — need to access data and the ability to transmit documents in a secure, standardized way. Digital document automation covers the automated, efficient generation and delivery of documents, as well as the processes around the document.

"Eliminating inefficiencies and lowering costs through digital document transformation will trickle down to deliver an enhanced experience for customers, vendors, provider networks and members," Mr. Masand said. "This, in turn, will result in increased retention, greater satisfaction and better health outcomes." The agreement is a key document type across all healthcare functions that requires lifecycle optimization. In addition, it contains volumes of information that should be captured as metadata, for use in reporting, tracking, and extraction to downstream systems like eligibility verification, claims and payment systems, so as to ensure accuracy and data integrity. To achieve the enhanced experience and healthcare outcomes mentioned above, organizations need document and agreement transformation that automates and optimizes the agreement generation and lifecycle.

3. Optum, like many healthcare organizations, faced significant contract administration challenges. Optum faced challenges such as complex organizational structures, no centralized archives or common processes, too many manual steps and disparate teams doing contracts, each using different systems. The company also faced high volumes of contracts as well as data restrictions and compliance risks. "The sales leader said we were the bottleneck to business success," Mr. Rowe recalled. "We couldn't find contracts and couldn't see what our obligations were. . . which created compliance risks."

4. Implementing agreement transformation has increased Optum's efficiency and scalability. One area of success was streamlining agreements. Once disparate departments agreed to common contract templates, Optum was able to automate workflows, including e-signatures. "Our turnaround times were often 90-plus days, and now I've seen contracts done in three minutes," Mr. Rowe said. Optum has also created a "Contracts Hub" to help automate the contract and lifecycle management process enterprise-wide. This Hub includes more than 30,000 automated "zero touch" agreements. Key technologies include Conga Contract and Lifecycle Management, Salesforce Sales Cloud and Salesforce Communities.

Benefits include a single source of truth for all contracts, increased efficiency, lower compliance risks and improved ability to scale.

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