CIO50 2021 #7: Alexis Stewart, Mercy Radiology
As director of strategic programmes Alexis Stewart leads Mercy Radiology’s digital and customer experience team. This team has been stood up to accelerate the conceptualisation, design, development, and deployment of digital initiatives, to have a positive impact on patients, partners, and staff.
In July 2019, Mercy Radiology became the first radiology group in New Zealand to facilitate online bookings for patients. Since then, it has continued to reduce the gap between the inherent complexity of health care and the simplicity required for great patient experiences with online systems. To date, more than two thirds of its services (over 800 scan types) are bookable online, and it has processed over 20,000 online bookings. The organisation’s capacity has doubled in the past two years and these systems have enabled the business to do this without doubling the workforce.
In parallel with online bookings, Stewart’s team has developed an online portal for referrers. The main benefits are the ability to send electronic referrals and track appointments across different organisations in real time. This enables diagnosis and care pathways to be delivered more efficiently and safely through better communication channels. There are now around 500 referrers using this system.
Since the online booking system could not write direct into Mercy’s internal booking system, Stewart’s team bridged the disconnect by deploying Robotic Process Automation (RPA) with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) capabilities. To date five processes have been automated and more are under development.
Online bookings are also combined with personalised risk assessments. This allows patients to complete online risk assessments, and if found to be at risk they can book a health-check scan or a home health-check kit. Specialist review and communication of results occurs within two days of the scan. A process that that had previously taken over four weeks has been reduced to one week.
“Alexis and the team live and breathe continuous improvement, innovation, and delivery. The patient and referrer platform and other digital tools continue to be enhanced and evolve to meet end-user needs and requirements — driving value for internal and external stakeholders with every release,” says Mercy Radiology CEO, Dr Lloyd McCann.
McCann cites the following metrics as proof points of what Stewart’s innovation and Digital leadership capability has enabled and added to Mercy Radiology and the patients it serves.
· Reduced the time to a specialist consult from over four weeks to one week.
· Saved hundreds of hours of time for patients, referrers, and other partners by streamlining their engagement with the organisation.
· This year, per week we have had an average of 250 online bookings and over 4,000 items processed across all RPA processes.
· Rob-E [robot] processes online bookings in an average of two minutes and 27 seconds (includes updating / adding patient details).
· An employee working on online bookings can process 40% more appointments than an employee answering calls.
· Call durations when processing online bookings are 67% shorter than traditional calls.
· The current uses for RPA using OCR can extract the required information with an accuracy rate of 98%.
· We predict a 19% increase in the number of scans for the next financial year and no need for additional booking FTE.
· Directing patients to our online bookings over Christmas allowed more staff to have time off for rest and relaxation after a stressful year.
· We have collected hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt very quickly due to billing staff members ability to pivot to value-add activities not mundane data entry.
“Alexis engages across all levels of the organisation to empower everybody to see the value in digital technology. Alexis helped to develop our overall Mercy Radiology strategic plan which takes a ‘bionic’ approach to service development and delivery. This means we mesh the very best of our human teams and the very best of digital innovation to deliver the very best outcomes for our patients and our partners,” McCann says.