What Is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Robotic process automation (RPA) refers to replacing human processes/inputs with the work of artificially intelligent “robot” employees. RPA boils down to two perennial business objectives:

  • Allocate fewer resources to repetitive, low-value-added tasks and more resources to complex, impactful ones
  • Eliminate the errors and inefficiencies inherent in human labor

If you’ve ever recorded an Excel macro, then you’ve already implement RPA on a micro scale. It was inefficient to repeat the same tedious actions for countless cells in a spreadsheet, so you quickly ‘taught’ Excel the series of steps. A process that took extended and careful attention could simply be kicked off with a couple clicks, then left to run unattended!

How Robotic Process Automation Impacts Business

Now, imagine that strategy writ large. Imagine relieving an entire department, location, or even enterprise of repetitive, manual processes. Furthermore, imagine a platform that could empower even non-technical users to capture and automate nuanced business processes.

Presumably, that scenario would have a large business impact. You might expect:

  • Lower labor costs
  • Perfectly consistent execution
  • Freedom from human scheduling and scaling constraints
  • Improved process velocity and turnaround times
  • Reduced onboarding and training costs

…and you would be correct!

But there’s one big catch: most processes are document-driven, and many documents still arrive as paper. To reap the greatest ROI on RPA, organizations need to look further upstream and assess the critical matters of data entry costs, accuracy, and speed.

Why RPA Needs OCR

Just as RPA tools solve the problems of human processing, so optical character recognition (OCR) tools solve the problems of human data entry.

We’ve written plenty on OCR, both generally and with regard to specific industries, so it might be worth reading up on our automated data capture solutions. In short, this technology uses a slew of visual,

linguistic, and statistical techniques to quickly turn pictures of text into actual text. Bottom line: it’s orders of magnitude faster, more accurate, and more cost-effective that the human brain.

RPA and OCR are complementary technologies, and may organizations have already integrated them seamlessly to automate processes from end to end. Together, they create the sort of efficiency that forward-thinkers will turn into competitive advantage.

Achieving Total Process Automation

Now in our second decade of workflow consulting, we’ve continually observed a fundamental truth: automating bottlenecks and labor-intensive processes always pays for itself. Often, this happens far more quickly than expected, and ushers in deeper digital transformation by prompting even more ambitious and valuable automation efforts.

If you’re starting to picture how the “digital employees” of cutting edge RPA and OCR tools can work together for your team, then please reach out today. We look forward to helping you address the challenges and seize the opportunities you see every day in your most critical workflows.

Why Robotic Process Automation (RPA) & OCR?

Robotic process automation (RPA) refers to replacing human processes/inputs with the work of artificially intelligent “robot” employees. RPA boils down to two perennial business objectives:

  • Reallocate resources from repetitive, low-value-added tasks to complex, impactful ones
  • Eliminate the errors and inefficiencies inherent in human labor

If you’ve ever recorded an Excel macro, then you’ve already implement RPA on a micro scale. It was inefficient to repeat the same tedious actions for countless cells in a spreadsheet, so you quickly ‘taught’ Excel the series of steps. A process that used to take extended and careful input could be kicked off with a couple clicks, then left to run unattended!

How Robotic Process Automation Impacts Business

Now, imagine that strategy writ large. Imagine relieving an entire department, location, or even enterprise of repetitive, manual processes. Furthermore, imagine a platform that could empower even non-technical users to capture and automate nuanced business processes.

Presumably, that scenario would have a large business impact. You might expect:

  • Lower labor costs
  • More consistent execution
  • Freedom from human scheduling and scaling constraints
  • Improved process velocity and turnaround times
  • Reduced onboarding and training costs

…and you would be correct!

But there’s one big catch: most processes are document-driven, and many documents still arrive as paper. To reap the greatest ROI on RPA, organizations need to look further upstream and assess the critical matters of data entry costs, accuracy, and speed.

Why RPA Needs OCR

Just as RPA tools solve the problems of human processing, so optical character recognition (OCR) tools solve the problems of human data entry.

We’ve written plenty on OCR, both generally and with regard to specific industries, so it might be worth reading up on our automated data capture solutions. In short, this technology uses a slew of visual, linguistic, and statistical techniques to quickly turn pictures of text into actual digital text. Bottom line: it’s orders of magnitude faster, more accurate, and more cost-effective that the human brain.

abbyy-flexicapture-mobile-data-capture

RPA and OCR are complementary technologies, and may organizations have already integrated them seamlessly to automate processes from end to end. Together, they create the sort of efficiency that forward-thinkers will turn into competitive advantage.

Achieving Total Process Automation

Now in our second decade of workflow consulting, we’ve continually observed a fundamental truth: automating bottlenecks and labor-intensive processes always pays for itself. Often, this happens far more quickly than expected, and ushers in deeper digital transformation by prompting even more ambitious and valuable automation efforts.

If you’re starting to picture how the “digital employees” of cutting edge RPA and OCR tools can work together for your team, then please reach out today. We look forward to helping you address the challenges and seize the opportunities you see every day in your most critical workflows.

What’s New In OCR Data Capture?

New OCR technology continues to raise the bar for workflow efficiency. We’re excited to highlight the most impactful developments in this space, and to share how and why they can benefit your bottom line.

Improved self-teaching

Several iterations of OCR data capture software have incorporated self-teaching capabilities. We’re now seeing this feature extended to irregular documents, meaning that users can train the software to detect inconsistent fields with less and less supervision. The result is even more hands-off oversight of a wider range of document types.

Benefit: Lower system maintenance, plus higher accuracy and quicker improvement on the most challenging documents

More sophisticated classification techniques

A key task of document capture software is to identify document types and handle them accordingly. This has usually relied on textual similarities, e.g., identifying an invoice because it contains an “Invoice #” field in the header. At the cutting edge of automated document classification, it’s also possible to use artificial intelligence to identify visual similarities between documents. This is similar to, but much faster than, the way a human reader might correctly sort forms by appearance.

Benefit: Visual and text-based approaches together yield quicker, more accurate, and more nuanced classification of a wider range of documents

SLA support & advanced monitoring

Sometimes the business impact of intelligent data capture is intuitively obvious yet difficult to quantify. To facilitate better measurement, OCR tools can now uphold predefined service level agreements, track processing stats, and even generate reports and dashboards.

Benefit: Enforce and demonstrate SLA fulfillment while quickly, easily supporting ROI calculations

Multitenancy

Granular configurations and permissions are essential for large organizations and/or complex use cases, but can be challenging to manage on an enterprise scale. Lately, document capture vendors have addressed this through multitenant architecture: in layman’s terms, it’s the ability to set up isolated app environments yet manage them centrally.

Benefit: The flexibility and security of endless personal licenses, paired with the simplicity of central management

Document set management

Scenarios like financial applications or insurance claims usually require a set of related documents in order to complete the process. By automatically checking metadata like the completeness of a document set—and even summarizing it automatically—OCR software now helps ensure that staff time is focused only on complete, ready-to-go “packages” of documents.

Benefit: Higher workflow efficiency through early, automated detection of incomplete documents

Greater mobile & cross-browser support

As data capture accuracy and speed have improved, they’ve become all the more valuable to users on the go. Improvements to mobile and web OCR clients make it easier for anyone, anywhere to send critical business documents to a capture workflow.

Benefit: Expanded user flexibility with virtually no constraints on technology, time, or place


Even as OCR data capture software evolves in exciting ways, its fundamental value remains constant. Replacing manual data entry with an automated capture workflow cuts costs, reduces errors, and speeds up revenue. This holds true for SMBs, branch offices, and large enterprises alike. After all, manual data capture is inefficient in any organization!

To learn more about how the latest advanced in OCR can help your own team, please contact Paperless Productivity® today.

Just What Are Those Low-Hanging Fruit?
Identifying Quick Wins In OCR Projects

In workflow/OCR consulting, early wins are often a hallmark of a successful automation project. They beget momentum, followed by buy-in, followed by wider support and adoption. That’s why–in the initial stages–even small victories can be accurate signs of a successful, high-momentum project to come.

FlexiCapture OCR solutions are all about turning the complex into the simple. They give the greatest long-term ROI on processes that were previously bound by steps and checks and human interventions. But when a project sponsor has gone out on a limb to change the status quo, putting their budget and reputation on the line, it’s wise to climb the hill before conquering the mountain.

This leaves us and our clients with the (sometimes literally) million-dollar question: “How can we identify the ‘low-hanging fruit’ that will make a quick win possible?”

Often, we take the Socratic approach and answer that question with some of our own. As a starting point, these questions have proven consistently helpful over years of OCR and workflow automation consulting.

What’s disproportionately painful?

We want to home in on the 20% of the processes that cause 80% of the headaches, as the rule suggests. Even within that subset, there’s usually one workflow that causes the most groaning and eye-rolling. That is the place to start!

If clients can pinpoint a single process that yields more than its fair share of costs or confusion, then they’ve got a prime candidate for immediate automation. After all, a highly visible pain point means that the solution will be highly visible, as well.

What information carries the biggest legal risk or compliance burden?

Just as current pains are a focus of project planning, we’d be remiss not to look at the likelihood of future pains. This is often very industry-specific, as with HIPAA compliance during/after EMR adoption, confidentiality of credit history in mortgage application bundles, etc.

Whatever the specific regulations, there are typically large and very expensive legal consequences at stake. Whenever FlexiCapture can help address data accuracy and security, a compliance-oriented automation project may be one of the quickest ways to provide value.

If you’ve tried to deploy OCR before, which business processes were involved? What got in the way?

Another opportune starting point is any process that an organization tried previously to automate, but was stymied by inadequate technology or rough implementation. On a technical level, ABBYY customers routinely find that FlexiCapture simply outdoes other applications in sheer accuracy–which is often tested head-to-head on real-life forms.

Combining standard-setting performance with a proven project planning methodology, it’s often possible not merely to resurrect older initiatives, but to see them succeed on an even greater scale than originally planned.


We want to set the stage for a victory from day one, and these questions are just the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands more that help us to help you lay the groundwork for a smooth, effective, and high-ROI automation project.

Collectively, our consultants have spent several decades in OCR and workflow automation consulting, all the while building and honing a time-tested workflow toolkit. So, if your team could use some expert guidance, then we invite you to reach out today.

The OCR Solution For Automated EOB Processing

OCR-based EOB automation software has been a red-hot topic as of late. On the one hand, many healthcare organizations would say their billing is already electronic. They’re making great use of the EDI 835 and 837 transaction sets and, for all intents and purposes, they’ve “gone digital” all over the place.

But digging deeper reveals a wrinkle. More often than not, only about 80% of transactions are actually digital. Obviously, that’s the vast majority, so revenue cycle teams are correct in saying that their billing process is mostly paperless. Here’s the rub, though: the remaining 20% on paper makes up much more than 20% of the processing costs, and leads to far more denials and write-offs than it should.

Thus arises the phenomenon of a revenue cycle team that looks and feels digital, yet still finds itself paralyzed by paper documents!

How OCR EOB Automation Strengthens Business

Since claims processing costs are a subset of overall labor costs, they have a direct relationship to profitability. It’s clear that disproportionately labor-intensive claims are a disproportionate financial burden on the organization.

Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story. Not only does paper documentation (or paper checks mixed with EDI data) take longer to process, but when claims are denied, the cost of pursuing small ones is rarely even worth it! Write-offs increase as a result, which compounds the financial burden of that 20% of total claim volume.

In healthcare, it’s tough to prevent paper from entering the office in the first place, so the most pragmatic option is to minimize its impact on business and care. That impact boils down to two fundamental pain points:

  • Labor-intensive classification, routing, and matching of claims and supporting documents
  • Unacceptable time and error rates associated with manual data entry

The remedy for both is a finely tuned EOB automation solution that uses OCR technology to eliminate the pain of paper. This often yields immediate reductions in costs, write-offs, and the rate of error-related denials in the first place.

As an added benefit, digitized paper claims are more accessible to customer service teams that require ad-hoc access to documents around a billing event. Instead of hours or days of research to track down checks and forms, they can do so immediately on their desktops–even while still on the phone with a patient, for instance. And the sooner a patient’s questions are answered, the sooner he or she is able to pay.

Why ABBYY FlexiCapture OCR For EOB Processing?

The beauty of ABBYY FlexiCapture is how quickly its users can see measurable improvements to the revenue cycle. Three features in particular help make this a reality, so let’s take a quick tour of each of them.

Accurate Recognition

The fastest OCR engine in the world can only be as useful as its results are accurate. OCR software for EOB processing bears a special burden in this regard. Not only does its accuracy have financial effects, but correct recognition ultimately helps patients receive care more promptly.

Depending on the text quality and document layout (see the next point), FlexiCapture’s accuracy often approaches 99+%. At this point, the only human involvement is a few keystrokes to confirm OCR output in a local or web-based Verification Station. With good form design plus time for the application to “teach” itself, we have often seen accuracy approach the mythical 100% mark.

Template-Based But Flexible Workflows

To the previous point, FlexiCapture can–as its name suggests–accurately extract text from virtually any document imaginable. Structured forms, unstructured documents, handwritten notes…it’s all fair game.

This is valuable when documents are inherently varied, as with all the materials that might support an insurance claim. But clients get the most out of FlexiCapture by using its flexibility for one-off documents alongside fine-tuned templates for recurring ones. This results in nearly zero-effort capture of most forms and a substantial improvement over hand-entering the rest.

Scalability

In some cases, the “paper paralysis” phenomenon is just one symptom of an organization-wide reliance on manual input. In the bigger picture, we want to help clients leverage an EOB-centric OCR tool for automated processing across all workflows and archives.

FlexiCapture comes in two flavors: standalone desktop licenses and a distributed, client-server model. This means that the revenue cycle team can be more seats for OCR EOB processing at the same time that other departments adopt FlexiCapture for their own needs. It scales along with business, plain and simple.

Get Started With OCR EOB Processing

From initial project planning to go-live, many EOB OCR projects with FlexiCapture require just a matter of weeks or months. This is a far cry from the multi-year ordeal that most EHRs deployments involve. In fact, it’s common to recover project costs and actually generate a positive ROI within months of deployment, due largely to the precipitous drop in labor costs.

If you’re ready to explore OCR software for EOB automation in greater depth, or just pick the brain of an expert, then please contact us today. We’re always happy to arrange a free consultation, or even to prepare a live demo using your own, real-life documents!