By Kellie Uhlhorn, Agency Consultant, Kite Technology Group
Like most companies, your agency's staff has probably been working from home or coming to the office intermittently for the past few months. Moving and relocating employees and equipment to home offices earlier in the year was, I know, nothing short of a challenge. While things may have calmed down enough now where a new 'normal' has set in, it is essential to know that your staff is still following your agency's workflows and that nothing was missed during that stressful transitional period. With so many employees continuing to work remotely for the foreseeable future, you may need to amend your agency's workflows to accommodate the necessary changes required to make this new structure feasible.
There are numerous benefits to implementing auditing within your agency. With employees working remotely, it is essential to ensure that your agency's workflows are followed and that the data entered in Applied Epic is accurate. Auditing enables your agency to evaluate your current workflows and determine what changes are required. Auditing can also be useful in assessing and balancing the workload among your employees, providing training opportunities, and even conducting performance reviews.
There are three main ways that you can audit your data in Applied Epic:
- Data Audits
- Procedural Audits
Though conducted differently, each of these methods of auditing can prove beneficial at ensuring that your agency's workflows are standardized and followed; that information is entered correctly and promptly, thus lessening the threat of Errors & Omissions claims.
Auditing with reports provides a higher-level overview of data and processes in Applied Epic. Reports can be crucial to preventing potential Errors & Omissions claims as they offer an accurate read on policies and information that may be inaccurate or missed. One report we find the most useful, for example, is the Missed Renewals report. This report can show a list of policies that are coming up for renewal but have not yet been started in Epic. It can also identify policies that have already expired but were never renewed. You can set this report to run and automatically deliver to management for a department to review and reach out to the Account Manager handling the missed policy.
Reports are also helpful with pinpointing and solving discrepancies in workflows. A common occurrence we often see are policies that are still In Process or Submitted after an extended period. Policies should move through the stages from In Process to Submitted to Issued, so if it has been sitting at In Process or Submitted for quite some time, it is crucial to find out why. We recommend reviewing this report monthly to identify discrepancies and ensure workflows are followed promptly.
Data audits are a review of information in Applied Epic applications, policy documents, binders, proposals, and more. Though you can obtain some of this information through reports, it is best to manually perform data audits to ensure you are getting as much detail as possible. Data audits focus on making sure that information entered in Applied Epic and all corresponding documents match. For example, does the proposed coverage match the issued policy and the application in Epic? Data audits are an excellent way to identify and correct possible discrepancies between Proposed versus Issued Policy versus the Epic application.
Procedural audits will help your agency determine if your staff are correctly following workflows. This type of audit can help you evaluate the accuracy of naming conventions, attachment placement, binders issued, policy checked, marketing module use, and more. It can also help you decide if additional training is needed or if changes to your workflows are necessary. If you find that a workflow is consistently not followed, auditing can gauge whether the issue is with the workflow itself or if additional staff training is required. Procedural audits must be manually conducted as you cannot capture this type of information through just running reports.
If you are interested in implementing auditing practices, there are a few procedures that should be in place before you can get started. First, if you already have standardized workflows in place, make sure that appropriate training is provided to your employees. Next, create a plan of action for the results of your audits – what will you do with that information when you have it? As mentioned previously, auditing can be useful for data integrity purposes, workflow changes, additional training, and employee reviews. To get the most value from the data collected, you need to have established a plan for how you will use the results. Finally, determine which type of audit makes the most sense to implement for your agency. You can choose between reports, data, or procedural audits, or incorporate all three for best results.
When considering implementing auditing in your agency, it is also important to determine if you have the resources and expertise to conduct the work internally or if it makes sense to engage an external source. It is often more efficient for an agency to outsource auditing services as it's one less task assigned to someone's already full workload. The added benefit of outsourcing auditing is that it eliminates the possible conflicts that could result when you have agency staff auditing their own or other employees' work.
If you are ready to enhance your agency's performance in Applied Epic through auditing, Kite Technology's Agency Consulting Division is here to help. Our experienced consultants understand that every agency is unique, and we will help you develop a tailored plan that best addresses your agency's needs. Contact us today to learn more.