RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • The Health & Public Service Innovation Fund helps organizations implement innovation addressing a key industry problem or forecasted disruption.
  • In its inaugural year, the Innovation Fund sponsored 29 projects spanning Health, Citizen Services and Defense & Public Safety.
  • This article shares lessons learned and opportunities uncovered through some of the innovation initiatives.


Pursuing innovation in Health & Public Service

Whether it arrives in a subtle wave or a big bang, innovation transforms both the “what” and “how” of service delivery for health and public service organizations. It enhances customer and employee experience. It contributes to greater operational efficiency. Ultimately, it supports better outcomes in the form of healthier, safer and more prosperous communities.

Accenture research has affirmed that citizens see the value of innovation—with three in four wanting government technology leaders to be more innovative (source: Accenture’s Public Service Global Omnibus Citizen Survey). The same survey found that eight in 10 want government to work with private sector to innovate services.

That’s a concept that Accenture has been exploring at the front lines through the Health & Public Service Innovation Fund. With this program, Accenture is helping organizations implement innovation that addresses a key industry problem or forecasted industry disruption. For each project, Accenture provided two to four resources for six to 10 weeks and additional funding to kickstart the efforts. The program also mandates that clients have “skin in the game”—including staff, data, funding or some combination of those contributions—and be equally committed to achieving relevant outcomes.

"We used to talk about being fast followers around innovative ideas, and now we’re at the forefront—working with our clients to break new ground with AI and blockchain."

– SCOTT BROWN, Growth and Strategy Lead – H&PS

Innovating in tax

The Innovation Fund awarded a grant to a national revenue agency seeking new ways to manage its growing workload. The agency wanted to explore robotic process automation (RPA), which uses specialized computer programs, or software robots, to automate and standardize repeatable business processes. RPA can pay off on multiple fronts—improving customer experience by enabling faster, more accurate processing, enhancing employee experience by reducing tedious and unfulfilling “busywork,” and fueling higher efficiency for the agency itself.

While RPA tools can often be implemented quickly, organizations realize greater long-term benefit through a more strategic, big-picture approach. Working with Accenture, the tax authority made significant progress in building a strategic vision and plan for intelligent automation.

With that in mind, Accenture facilitated a discovery workshop—collaborating with the client to identify potential use cases for automation and machine learning. From there, they developed a proof-of-concept (POC) plan for designing, building and procuring a license, as well as setting up infrastructure to develop prototypes. The team also created a working demo that showcases how RPA can complete tasks more quickly and accurately, a message storyboard and video to bring the POC journey to life and a business case and findings report for agency executives.

The project has sparked an effort to stand up an RPA Center of Excellence to serve as the focal point for RPA expertise, best practices and training.

Using AI to predict and manage patient flow

The past five years have brought a significant growth in the number and complexity of patients at Hospital Albert Einstein in Brazil. Having already established a program to improve patient flow productivity, the hospital partnered with Accenture to help define how it could apply sophisticated AI components and new operating models.

Accenture delivered an emergency department (ED) discharge propensity model that offers real-time monitoring of the probability for patients to be hospitalized. The team also created a bed assignment optimization algorithm based on business and medical rules. In addition, it created a control tower application with more than 15 dashboards and functionalities for use by bed operations staff.

The project rapidly made an impact. With the ED discharge propensity model proving 94 percent accurate, the hospital has increased capacity by adding nine virtual beds within six months. The innovations are also enabling streamlined, transparent communication across units regarding patient moves and needs. Longer term, it’s supporting more agile decision making on capacity issues.

Retiring to blockchain

Another Innovation Fund project explored how blockchain can help address longstanding data management challenges among state retirement systems. This state has a network of 10+ retirement systems that must share data with each other about their members. But because mechanisms aren’t standardized, sharing data requires a time-consuming process of manual reconciliation across systems. The Innovation Fund team explored an exciting concept: moving to a blockchain network that would eliminate that inefficiency.

The team hosted a design thinking workshop with one of the participating retirement systems to review the current reciprocal system data-sharing processes, identify pain points and discuss potential solutions. With the findings in hand, Accenture and a network of other private-sector partners collaborated on a prototype that demonstrated how the system could “mutualize” shared member data through blockchain.

Beyond that, the team presented a blockchain overview and prototype demonstration to five of the state’s retirement systems. All five agreed to work with Accenture to develop and finalize the prototype—and transition to a pilot.

Designing out homelessness

England has seen a 73 percent increase in “rough sleepers,” or people sleeping in spaces not designed for habitation. Through the Innovation Fund, the Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) partnered with Accenture to take a fresh approach using innovative digital technology.

The innovation? Using digital technology to engage the public to become part of the solution.

Change into action: Designing out homelessness in West Midlands

View Transcript

The Health & Public Service Innovation Fund by the numbers

93

proposals submitted
Health & Public Service teams submitted more than 90 ideas for Innovation Fund projects.

29

projects sponsored
The Innovation Fund selection team chose 29 projects spanning Health, Citizen Services and Defense & Public Safety around the globe.

TO 10

weeks long
Accenture provided two to four resources and additional funding to kickstart each project over six to 10 weeks.

"Course correcting" with AI

The University of Oklahoma was facing a challenge. The time that graduate students and advisors were spending on course schedules and requirements was limiting the time available to focus on what really matters: academic success. Through the Innovation Fund, the University collaborated with Accenture to produce a proof of concept for an AI Assistant.

The AI Assistant uses existing data to help graduate students navigate the complexity of course schedules and requirements. Before registration, students can submit their proposed or desired set of classes to the tool. It then checks to ensure the schedule and combination of classes will keep them on track. The tool can also select an optimal schedule based on each student’s situation. And, it can alert the registrar to release or add more sections—in real time—as critical classes risk exceeding in capacity. The school is looking to move into a pilot phase, in which the proof of concept will be scaled to create a viable beta version.

A stronger focus on academic success at University of Oklahoma

Paying innovation forward

The Health & Public Service Innovation Fund is helping organizations build greater confidence and on-the-ground experience in AI, blockchain and other emerging technologies. And it represents only the beginning of what’s possible when health and public service organizations spark fresh thinking and bold actions to fundamentally reshape the services and experiences they deliver. Accenture is continuing the program in fiscal year 2019, with teams submitting 74 new proposals to date.

Scott Brown

GROWTH AND STRATEGY LEAD – HEALTH AND PUBLIC SERVICES

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