Nicole Neumarker is EVP for development and innovation of Cotivitia leading company in healthcare solutions and analysis.
For decades, there has been a battle between IT departments and business users – a battle of centralized control versus individual autonomy.
In the 1980s and 90s, when centralized mainframes gave way to client-server architectures, “power users” emerged who were not technical employees but could learn HTML and build their own intranets or websites, delve into advanced Excel functions or distribute off-the-shelf software for their departments. These tech-savvy business users began to develop many creative solutions and useful innovations for their teams that often had a very positive impact on productivity.
However, as these projects spread and grew older, it became clear that they entailed an unsustainable burden of training, support, upgrading and compliance work that fell heavily on the IT departments. Organizations began to set much stricter rules for bringing new technology and software into the organization, with IT taking the role of final arbiter of which solutions – if any – should be implemented. A “culture of control” gripped IT that in some cases was less about maintaining security and efficiency and more about protecting the IT “empire” – and its associated budgets.
Fast forward to 2022. A new generation of low-code solutions has emerged, and it has the potential to give IT departments and power users across the organization the best of both worlds: Users are empowered to optimize productivity and efficiency in their sphere of influence, and IT team maintains a certain level of control over the entire enterprise.
But taking advantage of low-code solutions to improve performance and reduce burnout—a challenge across many industries, including healthcare—requires leaders to become comfortable with being uncomfortable—to give up traditional levels of IT control in favor of efficiency, innovation and user satisfaction.
Building a low-risk approach to low code
The urgency of today’s workforce challenges, from labor shortages to cost pressures in an inflationary environment, requires companies to be nimble and quick to identify opportunities to strengthen performance and implement useful solutions. Low-code solutions have strong potential as “inefficiency killers” for organizations, empowering users to focus on the tasks where they provide critical value and automating the steps in between. They harness the power of technology and the user to eliminate cumbersome workflows at the front end of the business, establishing a foundation of consistency that helps eliminate rework and leads to better experiences for employees and customers.
Seen in the right light, low-code solutions provide a win-win for IT and business teams at a time when companies struggle to bring in quality IT resources while placing a premium on productivity and time-to-value. . They can allow IT engineers to concentrate on more rewarding, higher-value initiatives that accelerate the company’s progress rather than being bogged down with maintaining legacy technology.
Meanwhile, for business users who want a more technical role but don’t have the training or desire for a dedicated IT position, the ability to gain hands-on experience with low-code solutions and add value to teams increases their productivity and professional satisfaction. Such a move could even be a “retention strategy” to retain tech-savvy team members.
Important considerations for IT managers
How can companies most effectively decide where and when to provide low-code app development capabilities to their power users? Here are four considerations for IT managers.
1. Start by looking at your work processes. Examine workflows in key functional areas and consider what the ideal state would look like. Where are processes “heavy people” and how can people and systems interact more effectively in your ideal state? What process steps can be eliminated to achieve this goal, and what role, if any, can technology play in supporting or driving improvement? For example, by inspecting cumbersome workflows and reimagining them in an automated, end-to-end fashion, organizations can develop a better sense of where automation makes sense—starting with the systems already in place. This enables IT teams to focus their time on larger, more complex platforms.
2. Take stock of where human intervention provides the most value. Not all processes can be automated, but automation can create clean handovers of information or tasks that require human effort. Within health plans, machine learning applications can play an important role in identifying instances of potential fraud, waste, or abuse—for example, upcoding, which occurs when services are classified at higher than appropriate levels of clinical complexity to qualify for a higher payment rate. Automated functions can alert coding specialists to anomalies based on pattern recognition. From there, these functions can request direct review of claims, which are best suited for human evaluation and response.
3. Determine the level of culture change necessary to support an automation initiative. In some ways, this is the biggest challenge organizations will face in implementing low-code solutions for advanced users. Employees will naturally want to know how their position in the company will be affected by adopting low-code solutions that automate aspects of the work processes that have been manual. Managers need to ask themselves, “What is our human resources position on this topic? Do we intend to contribute to building up the employees’ skills so that they can move into other categories of work over time? Will the move to the cloud, for example, create a need for new types of positions that some existing employees can fill?”
4. Establish a management model for the use of low-code solutions. If you are going to deploy a low-code solution for power users and build it throughout your organization, you need a model to determine how decisions around automation and investment will be made and by whom, who will take responsibility for the work, the responsibility that each member of the management team has and more. The right management model also helps ensure that the projects carried out complement the organisation’s vision for automation and its overall strategy.
By carefully examining the possibilities of applying low-code solutions to work processes—and by recognizing the cultural shifts that must occur for these efforts to take hold—organizations can better position themselves to move as far and as quickly as they can in a constant change. environment.
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