NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Automation seems to be everywhere these days. And the state’s main department for providing social services to more than 1 million New Mexicans is embracing the technology as well.
New Mexico’s Human Services Department (HSD) helps New Mexicans enroll in Medicaid, access behavioral health services, and connect to food assistance programs. And within the department is some cutting-edge tech, including ‘digital workers.’
SS&C Technologies Holdings, Inc., an international software company, says they’re modernizing the department’s services. They say more than 30 so-called ‘digital workers’ (the company also calls them software robots) are already doing some work behind the scenes. The goal is for those software robots to cut down on delays within the department.
“Fifty-one percent of [New Mexico’s] residents receive support from the Human Services Department (HSD), and it’s critical that programs are easy to use and accessible to all,” the tech company says in a case study document. “To ensure the state meets residents’ needs in the best way possible, HSD consolidated its customer service center and utilized intelligent automation to help residents access and manage their benefits.”
That includes “Baby Bot,” a software robot that searches hospital records for newborns and adds those babies to the mother’s Medicaid record. In the past, it could take up to 30 days to get that process done, the tech company says. With Baby Bot, it only takes 15 minutes.
Another “brainy bot,” called Ava, helps human workers within HSD keep their case notes organized. The tech company says automating this work allows the humans to spend more time directly interacting with New Mexicans.
HSD says the move towards more tech makes sense for the department. “As 84% of HSD customers prefer to apply, renew, and manage their benefits online, we are meeting the needs of our customers by using automation where it makes sense,” Tim Fowler, the department’s public relations coordinator, told KRQE News 13.
The department also says the tech isn’t replacing any jobs. Instead, the digital workers are filling in the gaps on busy work.
“Automation is not replacing any of our workers or any jobs. It’s really helping HSD workers do the hard work,” Fowler says. “In order to give our workers back some of their time, we need to automate some of those smaller tasks that can be done with automation.”
The department also assures New Mexicans that real, human customer service representatives will still be available for those that don’t want to interact with a machine. But the robo-workers are available to help answer common questions.
“For example, if somebody has a general question such as, ‘My children are hungry, and I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to feed them this month,’ then [the software worker] gives them answers about benefits and tells them where and how they can apply,” Fowler explains. “They can get answers 24/7 without waiting for a live agent to answer those types of questions.”