If you believe using macros in a spreadsheet is the pinnacle of process automation, this article is for you. Technology and tools have moved on since the 90s, spawning phrases like hyper-automation, intelligent business management software, robotic process information, and artificial intelligence (AI).
Knee-jerk reactions to business automation point to layoffs and removing low-paid workers from the workforce. Yet modern automation is considerably more than simply removing mundane tasks from low-paid workers. It fills an ever-growing capability gap, with the exponential growth in business data outstripping workers' abilities to cope with the increasing complexity and volumes of information.
At ProofPilot, we provide a digital protocol automation solution for pharma companies to conduct clinical trials. I've seen firsthand the transformative effect of automation on client cost, compliance, and quality. Let's look at three ways automation will position your business for transformative growth.
Workflow automation significantly reduces serious human errors, an issue pertinent to the pharmaceutical and clinical trial industry. The Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development (CSDD) released study results showing almost one-third of patients enrolled in Phase II and Phase III clinical trials were impacted by protocol deviations. Such deviations impact the completeness, accuracy, and reliability of key study data and may significantly affect a person's rights, safety, or well-being.
Oncology clinical trials were the worst affected, with the highest average protocol deviations affecting over 40% of patients enrolled in each trial. Many of these deviations were preventable mistakes impacting some of the sickest and most vulnerable patients. Automating workflows with technology significantly reduces the chance of protocol deviations or violations when used on in-progress studies, preventing trial delays while ensuring ongoing compliance and trial integrity.
Automating tasks using AI and machine learning (ML) streamlines workloads by managing complex processes consisting of multiple decision points and sub-tasks. Data accuracy and productivity are enhanced while efficiency soars. A telling non-clinical example is RBC Wealth Management, a US financial advisory firm that used 26 different systems to onboard clients in a process that took weeks. Through process automation, that time is now 24 minutes. Imagine the impact this would have on clinical trial operations.
Let’s use a health tech app example. A wound-care group began using process automation for patient wound documentation. The software uses machine learning capabilities to generate billing codes and invoices without staff input. Coding accuracy has improved by 90%, process turnaround by 85%, and the reduction in manual work is 95%. Financial savings aside, the human payoff is the unburdening of clinical staff to focus better on adding value to patient care.
The business world is increasingly complex and variable, requiring businesses to be agile in sensing and responding to strategic, tactical, and operational pressures. Yet, processes from the past were more about control, and stability, with those operating the process, often lacking the time, authority, or knowledge to respond promptly to changes in the business environment.
Process automation provides the answer by using analytics engines to apply machine learning to data, recognize patterns, and respond appropriately and immediately to deviations. Subsequent actions can occur in real-time, returning agility, speed, and innovation to the business, improving efficiency and effectiveness while saving time and money.
In clinical trials, for example, there is considerable complexity when managing a high number of protocol amendments. Each new protocol amendment will trigger a cascade of supporting documents requiring change. The challenge becomes overwhelming when you throw in multiple sites and the need to locate and track thousands of documents with different versions, approval processes, and implementation timelines. A 2018 study on improving clinical trials supported process automation, citing poor protocol management as a cause of trial failure, noting that of 3,400 trials, more than 40% suffered amended protocols before the first subject visit, delaying trials by four months.
Choosing the right automation technology and the processes to implement provides businesses with multiple benefits. Intangibles include increased trust from improved transparency and traceability and the empowerment of employees by removing mundane tasks allowing a refocus on innovation and growth. Tangible benefits include reduced operational costs with increases in service effectiveness, efficiency, and quality while providing safe, robust processes.
Targeted automation offers you a competitive edge, streamlining your business processes and team activities and allowing you to scale your business quickly and efficiently. Don't miss our next article on helping you select the right applications while understanding the greatest risk you face by failing to adopt automation in your business.