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AI Isn’t Going to Take Your Job.

But It Will Transform Your Clients’ Experience For the Better.

Whether it’s ChatGPT or Google’s Bard, artificial intelligence (AI) solutions are getting their fair share of attention these days and it makes sense: AI is sexy, interesting, responsive, the stuff of science fiction seemingly made real. Will it create new industries? Will it take our jobs?

The imagination reels with possibilities – but the immediate reality is far more pragmatic and impactful than anything our minds might conjure. Simply put, in the hands of human beings, AI can transform client experience by resolving pain points and opening up opportunities to add more value. You only have to look at office work, particularly in paper-heavy industries, to see AI’s transformative potential in eliminating paper waste and automating tedious manual processes.

There are highly practical reasons for this: manual workflow processes cost every industry time and money, period. It’s estimated that the average worker spends 520 hours a year on automatable tasks, which surely doesn’t support productivity or worker morale. One research firm suggested that failure to automate tasks like “accounting, payroll, invoice processes and more” cost small and medium businesses $600B in their “ability to contribute to their nations’ overall economic health.” Fifty percent of all manufacturing and distribution sales in the US – a whopping $8.4T in B2B sales – were handled manually in 2019, one firm reported. And a reliance on paper processes slices into the bottom line: According to Gartner, a significant “three percent of company revenue is spent on paper-related activities.”

In healthcare, the average 1,500-bed hospital prints eight million pages a year at an annual cost of $3.8M. But the real issue is that not automating clinical tasks – “scanning documents, auditing patient-records access, notes processes, and processing patient admission and discharge records” – is clearly contributing to record physician and clinical staff burnout. How can we attract more medical professionals to the field when we can’t promise they’ll actually concentrate on what attracted them to medicine in the first place (ie, patient care)?

70 percent of clinicians spend 10 hours or more on paperwork a week, robbing them of precious time with patients. That’s particularly salient when we’re facing a projected shortfall of 124,000 doctors in the US alone by 2034.

The legal profession is another example of an industry that lacks automation and suffers the consequences. Attorneys in smaller law firms report spending “40 percent of their time on administrative tasks.” In law firms of 100 attorneys or more, the time spent searching for the right documents and recreating others that can’t be found adds up to nearly a million dollars per year. Gartner noted that “at least half of legal departments haven’t put in place foundational systems of record,” which doesn’t set them up for success when it’s time to adopt more innovative digital technologies in the future.

Imagine what automating the everyday tasks within manual-first industries could do for leaders and staff, from decreasing costs to substantially improving efficiency and reducing human errors. AI can deliver those benefits for healthcare and legal through smart document processing. It can take a large variety of documents, scan and classify them, and – along the way – extract different kinds of information that’s needed. In a legal context, for example, consider the utility of automatically classifying a document as a contract versus a notice for a deposition. Suddenly the issue of misclassifying a document and being unable to locate it is gone forever. In a medical setting, AI could securely extract lab results and prescription histories, speeding up time to address patient concerns.

And this innovation is only getting better because the central premise of an AI-based algorithm is always-on predictive learning. Simply put, the more data it ingests, the more it’s asked to do, the more work it does on your behalf, the more efficient and helpful it becomes. This is what’s known as “training the model” and it’s why good AI tools can deliver upwards of 95 percent accuracy with even unstructured documents that are inconsistently formatted with free-form (e.g., handwritten) text.

If a mid-sized law firm generates a million pages per year, it means 20 to 30 people are dealing with that data a day. But with smart document processing in place, firms really need only five people or so to manage and monitor, freeing up capacity for the others to do something more meaningful and value-added for clients. The firm saves 70 percent of the time that was essentially wasted on lower-value activities and reallocates it to more impactful ones; the remaining 30 percent is allocated for human oversight to spot check documents and flag the rare exceptions.

Attorneys don’t want to waste time hunting for documents. Clinicians want to spend more time with patients. In any industry, every professional would much rather use their expertise and experience for creative and innovative work that makes a real difference over tedious, automatable tasks that anyone could do (and a machine could do better). AI makes that much more possible by automating the things human beings have to do – not what they want to do.

With AI at your fingertips, you can ask – and answer – one of the most salient questions of all: what can I do for my clients if I have more of my precious time to give them? Just imagine the possibilities.

Intrigued by the possibilities of smart document processing – and what it will allow you to do for your company and clients?

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