Regulatory compliance in the Internet Age
Earlier this year we helped GPA Accreditation plus launch their signature accreditation platform. GPA Connect is a digital embodiment of their corporate mission and one of their biggest investments in changing the face of the game. GPA's business is a regulatory one. Governed by standards published by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, it's a process that involves diligence by GPA staff and their surveyors to assist the general practice achieve the recognition of their seriousness towards health care.
Most of the year has seen us shipping regular updates to their platform while supporting the business and their contractors and, most important, enabling their customers to shift towards a completely online paradigm. And along the way, we have learnt many lessons.
Bringing regulation to life
Prior to the days of Connect, the relationship between the RACGP standards and the activities undertaken during the accreditation process were only understood by a few. Since it was so difficult to draw a parallel between the required activities and proposed standards, it was virtually impossible to draw a one-to-one relationship.
While building Connect, we sat down with key staff members at GPA and drew a data map of how each activity related to the RACGP standards; be it answering a question in their pre-survey questionnaire, uploading a document or curating a staff member's profile.
This allowed us to construct interfaces which respond to the practice managers' interactions in the system and inform them of which portion, and how much, of the overall standards they comply with. Every action is an instant feedback of compliance.
Streamlining every corner
Businesses tend to become complacent about their processes. It's not always easy to step back and critique your work, especially when delivering to business reality is the primary goal. Building software starts with introspecting the business processes and can often result in changing them.
Trying to understand everything about a business prompts the developers and designers to ask the obvious "why this way?" or even suggest changes based on an outsiders' perspective. This proves to be a fruitful exercise of seeking to change processes for the better, and what better way than a software product to enforce the change!
An example in GPA's case was moving all reports to be presented at an indicator level. It meant every report that GPA would produce via Connect would be as detailed as possible, based on the information available.
Automated audit trail
Staff at GPA are always occupied by providing a quality service to their customers. Be this reviewing submitted evidence, constructing reports pre or post the survey visit, or negotiating surveyors. Many things happen collaboratively; one person picks up where another left off. Tracking progress or activity when left to a pure manual process proves to be error prone.
Connect was able to step in and assist. It keeps track of every important action taken by any stakeholder through the accreditation process. From practices rejecting quotes, to surveyors accepting their quotes and every important decision made during the construction of a report, Connect provides an automatic audit trail that allows anyone to refresh their memory on what happened.
Horizontal and vertical views
Following on from bringing "Regulations to Life" we were able to do one better. During the analysis process it was evident that staff members at GPA had a vertical view of the world, i.e. "show me everything across various stages of accreditation" (filtered, but not always to their case load) and the practices wanted to focus on what was pertinent to their accreditation.
This is made possible by crafting bespoke interfaces for stakeholders and presenting them interfaces that cover cross-sections of the accreditation life-cycle.
A great example of this is how we let GPA staff keep on top of what practices are working on. As practice managers upload evidence to the system, alerts are raised for GPA staff to review this information. This completely changes the way GPA staff handle their case load, where they can now incrementally review the evidence (as opposed to reviewing everything when sent as a large package in the mail) and an inline interface allows them to incrementally populate relevant portions of the report that they send to the practices.
An Internet platform
GPA Connect is a platform of the Internet age. It leverages many aspects of Amazon's AWS infrastructure, complimented by our own software development stack, presenting itself to every user as a platform. It is there in your browser, helping you achieve every aspect of your work; the only way to talk to it is its robust API.
When you leave, it disappears, There are no files or databases. You can get to it whenever, wherever. It knows who you are and what portions of the system you're allowed to work with.
This is Software as a Service. There to serve the needs of the business and getting out of the way, letting people do the work they need to do and letting the business deliver the service they promised.
GPA Connect has been one of our most fulfilling ventures. It's not only complex as a software project but a successful re-engineering of a traditional compliance-oriented business that brings accreditation to the Internet age. Regulatory compliance is an important aspect of modern societies and software is about to play a massive role in making them more accessible, simpler and, most of all, transparent.
We at Anomaly would welcome the opportunity to work with agencies who share our enthusiasm of moving compliance into the digital sphere.