Annually, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) receives more than 14 million documents from Veterans, dependents and/or their representatives submitting claims, necessary correspondence and evidence to receive compensation and pension benefits. These documents consist of more than 1,000 different types, and the intake channels for these documents include paper mail and faxes as well as electronic uploads. The VBA Compensation and Pension Services embarked on a journey to dramatically reduce mail processing times so that mail is handled the same day it is received and benefits can be received faster. This innovation requires significant automation, modern engineering practices and emerging technologies to obtain the desired outcomes.
- Program management, strategy, enterprise architecture and planning support
- Systems/software engineering and testing
- Enterprise operations and maintenance
VBA’s major goals include reducing claims initiation and processing timelines and automating claims creation from forms received via paper mail, fax or electronically from third-party vendors. The current mail handling process was largely manual, with roughly 1,000 VBA employees processing VBA mail every day. At times, mail processing had taken between five to 60 days for claims information to be inputted into VA systems for processing. VBA’s goals were to automate these activities by implementing a robust, reliable and scalable architecture capable of automatically processing more than 15,000 documents end-to-end in a single day with 98% confidence in automated data extraction as well as end processing state.
Aptive supports the prime vendor, IBM, in fielding a combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) capabilities to automate processing of inbound mail the same day it arrives at VBA. Aptive leads the deployment and integration of the Hyperscience intelligent forms recognition /intelligent character recognition platform as well as development and deployment of a suite of natural language processing and machine learning utilities.
Results and Benefits:
Aptive-led successes include: design, development and deployment to production VBA Form 21-22 (Appointment of a Veteran Service Organization as Power of Attorney) processing in 6 weeks; a 20% increase in mail automation of inbound VBA mail packets and continued support increases in mail automation by 2-3% with new deployments each week; auto-processing over 10,000 Form 21-22s; and auto-extraction of over 250,000 fields from the forms with roughly 95% data extraction accuracy. As a result of this effort, 45% of inbound VBA mail (as of June 2020) was automatically processed and attached to Veteran records the same day it arrived. Additionally, as a result of automations, roughly 200 VA claims assistants obtained training resulting in promotions to claims examiner and/or claims processor roles.