In 5 years, 30 percent of the healthcare workforce will be digital — Is your health system ready?

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Historically, the healthcare sector has lagged behind other industries when it comes to interoperability. Many organizations have tried to address this problem by having humans act as routers Employees log into multiple disparate systems, copy and paste information, and handle high volumes of data exchanges to tackle healthcare’s mountain of administrative tasks. In October, at Becker's Hospital Review 5th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference in Chicago, Olive hosted a workshop to explore how an A.I. workforce can address this issue. Sean Lane, CEO of Olive, discussed how health systems are deploying artificial intelligence to improve operational efficiency and free employees to interact more meaningfully with patients.

Why should health systems focus on adopting an A.I. workforce?

The healthcare sector is the top employer in the United States, with 16 million employees. Unfortunately, every employee — including physicians and nurses — spends about half of their time on administrative work. Lane explained, "If we freed up only one percent of the time currently devoted to administrative work, it would represent 160 million hours that could be focused on treatments, patient engagement and interaction."

The widespread deployment of an A.I. workforce could help. Olive defines the A.I. workforce as software robots that log into the information systems that healthcare organizations use every day. These robots use systems in the same ways as human employees, completing tasks that currently burden the system.

Like any new employee, Olive’s solution receives an email address and user access for existing tools and systems. Olive can use any EMR, web portal or digital system, resulting in true interoperability.

Olive automates workflows such as insurance eligibility checks, prior authorizations, claim status checks, payment posting, account updates, billing and more. She works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, increasing efficiency, reducing errors and allowing staff to focus on the patient experience.

AI: The enabler of an A.I. workforce

Artificial intelligence is made up of three categories:

  • Robotic process automation is automation that occurs when systems interact with computer user interfaces. Mr. Lane said, "Computer vision is the reason that we can adopt RPA at the enterprise scale. This technology enables Olive to see EMR and portal user interfaces and understand what the buttons mean. If those buttons move or change, the automation doesn't break."
  • Global awareness allows Olive to recognize patients, physicians, CPT codes and more across different systems. It uses a sophisticated graph-matching algorithm to ensure continuity across systems.
  • Machine intelligence encompasses machine learning and deep learning. Machine learning analyzes data from the past to predict the future. Deep learning relies on neural nets to determine how humans make decisions and to create models that make human-like decisions.

Operational A.I. in healthcare: A Four-act play

Olive anticipates the adoption of an A.I. workforce in healthcare will occur in four phases:

  • Phase 1: Capacity Increase - This phase is occurring today, as health systems use software robots to automate simple, high-volume tasks.
  • Phase 2: Upscaling - As healthcare organizations adopt a digital workforce, they must develop plans to retrain and redeploy human employees.
  • Phase 3: Creation - Providers can explore new business models such as central business offices and new ways to care for patients, like telemedicine. Lane said, "These initiatives will incorporate automation from the start, resulting in more favorable margins and cost structures. Increased competition will also emerge as new health systems start from scratch based on an A.I.workforce."
  • Phase 4: The Squeeze - If organizations fail to transform, they will be challenged and human employees will lose their jobs – and entire organizations may cease to exist.

According to Lane, the healthcare sector is currently in the Capacity Increase and Upscaling phases. Conversations about Creation are underway and the Squeeze is likely five to 10 years in the future.


Leading healthcare providers are recognizing the need to hire an A.I. workforce. Lane predicts that in one year, every health system will have a software robot and within five years, 30 percent of the healthcare workforce will be digital. Lane asked, "Where in your organization are humans doing robotic things? What if you could take the robot out of the human and allow them to focus on the things that only humans can do?"

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