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Analysis

Ascension Subsidiary Moves Beyond Healthcare

By Philip Betbeze  
   June 19, 2018

Process automation company Agilify, which has saved the health system 10% in costs for five straight years, launches for healthcare as well as other industries.

The nation's largest Catholic health system says the results from its shared services subsidiary over the past five years are so compelling that it can compete with the best in intelligent process automation.

That's why it's launching its Indianapolis-based subsidiary Agilify outside the Ascension family to organizations from healthcare and other industries.

The field is expected to grow to a $2.4 billion market by 2021, according to Ascension.

Intelligent process automation has been described by global management consultant McKinsey & Co. as "taking the robot out of the human."

It replaces labor-intensive, repetitive tasks with software automation to handle tasks in organizations with large process operations that are largely standardized. IPA merges a set of new technologies that combines fundamental process redesign with robotic process automation and machine learning.

McKinsey says many companies have been experimenting with IPA recently with impressive results, including:

  • Automation of 50 to 70 percent of tasks.
     
  • 20% to 35% annual run-rate cost efficiencies.
     
  • A reduction in straight-through process time of 50% to 60%.
     
  • An ROI in triple-digit percentages.

Indeed, Ascension’s shared services organization, the Ministry Service Center, began testing and piloting automation more than five years ago, and has recorded 10% year-over-year cost reduction for more than five years, with automation playing a key role in that performance.

The 153-hospital St. Louis-based healthcare organization is counting on Agilify's ability to capture business from outside healthcare after a year of successful market testing and growth in demand, says Anthony Tersigni, Ascension's president and chief executive officer.

The company is part of Ascension’s Dual Transformation strategy, whereby Ascension is working to optimize and transform its core healthcare operations while creating transformational new models to extend its reach and impact, Tersigni said in a release.

“Agilify is an example of how we are developing new revenue sources and best-in-class subsidiaries that serve the needs of Ascension and other organizations, all to advance our mission of service,” he said.

Innovation often comes from outside healthcare instead of the other way around. Health systems more frequently adopt technologies developed by other firms and try to adapt those solutions to healthcare.

Not this time.

“As we began to tell our own story of success, other companies across a mix of industries approached us to find out how we did it. From there, Agilify began to take shape,” said Lee Coulter, chief executive officer of Agilify.

He said that the tools it employs, including software bots and other digital technologies, deliver better transactional speed and accuracy, while working around the clock.

 

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.


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