The public sector has historically been averse to the implementation of new technology, but the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is getting ahead of the game by accelerating the digitization of its core services to customers with the help of its chief technology and innovation officer Samantha Liscio.

One of the largest insurance organizations in North America, WSIB covers over five million people in more than 300,000 workplaces across Ontario and processes more than 150,000 claims per year.

The COVID-19 crisis required that this essential work continues uninterrupted and involved getting a workforce of 4,000, across 16 regional offices effectively working from home within a week. Having a robust technology infrastructure and cloud based collaboration tools in place was key, together with a client-focused IT operating model put in place over the last 18 months, according to Liscio.

Almost overnight, the company moved to a ‘work from home’ organization with no interruption in critical services delivery. The WSIB has changed from being reliant on paper, to being enabled by technology, relying on tools such as Office 365 in the cloud, Microsoft Teams, OneDrive and a robust and stable infrastructure, Liscio told the publication.

Samantha Liscio, CTIO for the WSIB.

The CTIO has delivered digital channels to allow secure identity and access management for business users (to pay premiums, have clearance certificates issued and to engage directly), implemented digital document upload for claims information and launched online services for people with claims in May 2020. Each of these initiatives helps improve usability of technology from the perspective of the WSIB clients. Usability of technology internally has been driven by the implementation of collaboration tools mentioned above and by creating single on capabilities across corporate systems, said Liscio.

“With COVID-19, we’ve digitized all our incoming hardcopy mail. We have also digitized access requests so when customers of ours want access to their files where we typically would have provided them with hardcopies, we now do that by an encrypted email. The digital document tool now accounts for more than 70 per cent of the volume of incoming documentation related to claims files for us. That’s more than one and a half million pieces of mail that we avoid by having that channel in place, and it reduces our customer wait times for claims assessment, from about 10 or 15 days to 10-12 minutes,” she said. “In addition, the login for business has increased customer satisfaction for the WSIB services from about 34 per cent up to 68 per cent, which is phenomenal. In this way, we’re looking at efficiency savings and customer satisfaction improvements at the frontend, as well as those meeting and exceeding SLAs and efficiency drivers on the backend.”

WSIB’s digital document uploader for claims information launched in June this year. People with claims will now be able to access their claims information directly through a secure channel for the first time ever. The organization has also implemented an electronic signature solution.

 

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While unpacking the modernization efforts of the past year at the WSIB, Liscio said they focused on the achievement of service level agreements and service level objectives. In 2019, Liscio helped WSIB save $4.4 million in software, hardware, and other operational efficiencies by reducing mainframe footprint, migrating legacy to cloud, driving efficiencies in software maintenance and support and by engaging in strategic outsourcing, and an additional $7.3 million by reducing dependency on Fee For Service (FFS) resources. Along with financial benefits, this has driven increased employee engagement. Under the leadership of Liscio, the WSIB was also able to achieve all critical SLAs in 2019 including network, voice, compute, storage, service desk/end-user computer services, implemented permanent solutions for 95 per cent of recurring incidents by implementing problem management, significantly reduced emergency and expedited changes, improving operational stability and minimizing risk to the production environment for WSIB’s business systems and reduced the total incident count under application support queues by 61 per cent.

“We’ve been able to automate across our quality assurance process as part of which we have got more than a third of our regression suite automated that account for more than about 4000 regression test cases over more than 60 applications. As a result, our cycle time is reduced significantly, and the test effectiveness is in the order of 96 or 98 per cent. All this just seems like numbers sometimes but that’s a really big deal when it means that we can produce and get to production quicker on digital solutions,” said Liscio. “So in the backend, there’s lots of work on the efficiency savings and the automation. But then, I think we really get judged on the delivery of digital products. And over the last 12 months IT at the WSIB has delivered digital channels to allow secure identity and access management for business users, and our business users who are the employers in Ontario engage with us to pay premiums, have clearance certificates issued, and to have those kinds of one on one conversations with us directly.”

Liscio is this year’s CanadianCIO of the Year award winner for the public sector category, an award which is open to senior technology leaders from federal, provincial and municipal governments as well as all associated agencies, Crown corporations, universities, schools and hospitals.