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‘Our technology is saving lives and limbs’

Brad Newton

Technologies developed for one use are having unintended benefits for the businesses and customers ultimately using them, with one tech provider revealing how digitisation is aiding human healthcare.

Brad Newton, vice-president of APAC at DocuSign, said the company’s digital signatures technology is being taken up by Australian government agencies in a bid to digitise “over 5,000 forms on government websites right now that require a signature”.

This digitisation, he said, is having a significant benefit for end users, even potentially lifesaving where healthcare is involved.

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“We did a proof of concept, just to prove the value of speed within the government services and we focused on a use case which was a Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme form,” he told My Business.

“Imagine this: you’ve got a severely ill person who needs access to specialised medication, so they go to their specialist, and the specialist says, ‘Yep, you’ve got such and such, I need to give you this medication’. And in some cases it’s life-saving! [But] it takes that specialist then has to fill in the PBS form; the PBS form is a nightmare. In some cases, it’s eight pages long, quite complex.

“That doctor fills it in, signs it, it gets sent to Tasmania — either by an attachment to an email or by post. There’s a processing facility in Tasmania that will take that form and they will then try to interpret the doctor’s handwriting, which they generally can’t, or the form is not completed correctly, so they send the form back to the specialist and if they received it by email, they send it back by email, and if they received it by mail, guess what, they have to send it back by mail.”

According to Mr Newton, this process can take weeks or even months to complete, particularly if the forms are sent by post, which can have major implications for the patient’s health and wellbeing.

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“There are examples where there is potential loss of limbs, there is potential loss of eyesight due to a delay in access to this medication,” he said.

“In the proof of concept, we were able to show that we can get this form completed by the specialist, correctly 100 per cent of the time, first time, and we could talk to the back-end system that does the approval so that we don’t even need anyone to key the data in; it automatically gets approved.

“So we could show how we could take this [average] four-week turnaround process for these severely medically ill people down to literally minutes, because DocuSign would force the doctor to complete all the sections that were necessary... we can guide the specialist through the form, so you cannot complete the form until every section’s completed. You can’t sign and submit the form until it’s completed correctly.

“Effectively, the patient’s in with the specialist and gets access to the drugs within minutes.”

Technology delivering widespread efficiencies

According to Mr Newton, digital signatures and increasing automation of data capture is delivering a range of efficiency and business benefits for a wide range of documents, including sales contracts, mortgage documents and employment agreements.

“Normally in a sales contract process... you’re looking at somewhere between four and seven weeks,” he said.

“What weve found is with... 80 per cent of the contracts — whether they’re employment letters, whether they’re home loans, whether they’re offer letters, whatever the contract is — 80 per cent of them [are] done in less than a day.

“We take seven weeks down to a day. We actually take 50 per cent is less than an hour.”

Mr Newton added: “That’s one use case that I kind of walk away from every day and going, you know, we do have a technology that can make a difference.”

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