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September 28, 2021


AI for Digitizing Handwritten Preliminary Exam Forms: A Look Behind the Scenes at Managing COVID-19 Vaccine Administration Records

To address the raging COVID-19 pandemic that started in 2019, vaccines began to be administered in Japan in 2021, and it was reported that half of the total domestic population had completed their second shot as of September 2021.

Those who received the vaccines presumably filled out a “preliminary exam form” on the day of their vaccination and submitted it to their medical institution. These preliminary exam forms were digitized after submission and used for managing the information of those who had completed their vaccine administration.

SCSK ServiceWare Corporation, a BPO business in the SCSK Group and a major system integrator focusing on IT service integration, is working on digitizing preliminary exam forms. In this process, they implemented AI inside’s “DX Suite” with AI-OCR feature, along with the edge computing device“AI inside Cube.”. In this article, we asked how they are working on digital transformation, and how they are providing behind-the-scene support to society. 

Advancing digitization due to recruitment issues and market changes

Business Division 3 Division 2 Section 1 Business Support Section Manager
Mr. Tatsuya Mizuno

— Please tell us about your business.

Mr. Mizuno: Within the SCSK group, which offers various IT services, we mainly provide BPO services, such as contact center and back-office work. At the Nagoya Center, we have focused on back-office work and data entry for almost 40 years. Operators (data entrants) input the data of more than ten companies during busy seasons.

— What was the background of digitizing data entry?

Mr. Mizuno: The aging population and increasing drop in the working population in Japan is a major issue for our company. Since data entry is a so-called labor-intensive business, we predict that the number of its operators would decrease. Then, it would become important to secure operators who could quickly and accurately enter data with less cost, as per the business model of data entry.

However, recently, it has become extremely challenging to secure workers with a fast data entry speed, in terms of personnel costs. In addition, market changes, such as fewer data entry items as a result of more documents being digitized, aided in the advancement of digitization.

Seeking high security and reading precision, AI inside service was adopted

Screen of “DX Suite” during AI-OCR of Preliminary Exam Form

— Please tell us about the tasks where AI inside’s services are used.

Mr. Mizuno: We have used “DX Suite” for digitizing COVID-19 vaccine preliminary exam forms. The preliminary exam form is a document where you fill in your health condition on the day of vaccination. After the vaccination, you attach the “vaccination stamp” which manages your personal information of having received the vaccine. A client inquired about this around the beginning of 2021, and we formalized the task design and requirement definitions from around March of that year. We were scheduled to start delivering vaccine stamps and preliminary exam forms in the latter part of June, so we took steps to launch the tasks starting from the beggining of May 2021.

— Please tell us why you adopted our service.

Mr. Mizuno: We have been using “DX Suite” before working on this specific task. We decided to implement “DX Suite” as we wanted a tool that could accurately read handwritten characters because most business forms requested of clients are handwritten. We considered several tools but chose “DX Suite” ultimately because its AI-OCR accuracy was higher than expected. Since then, it has been used for digitizing member application forms for private companies as well as application forms for fixed benefits of municipalities starting around June 2020 when COVID-19 was spreading.

To digitize the preliminary exam forms, we use their edge computer “AI inside Cube” which has “DX Suite” installed. The preliminary exam forms have personal information written that requires strict attention, such as name, address, date of birth, and the existence of underlying conditions, and necessitates very high security. Therefore, it became necessary to digitize the data in an independent and secure environment. Another reason for adopting it was to secure sufficient bandwidth for data transmission.

Turning 400,000 forms to digital data per month using “DX suite” with in-house  developed tools

Business Division 3 Division 2 Section 1 Mr. Tomonao Teramoto

— Please tell us the workflow from reading the paper preliminary exam forms to delivering the data.

Mr. Teramoto: It takes about one week to convert the paper preliminary exam forms sent from the municipalities into data and deliver them. The following is the general workflow.

  1. Receive the paper preliminary exam forms of the vaccine recipients via postal mail through the municipality.
  2. Visually inspect the preliminary exam forms for issues, sort, scan, and convert them to images (Nagoya Center).
  3. -1 Read with  “DX Suite” and convert to data (Nagoya Center).
    -2 Less than 40 operators input data by checking the images to turn it into data (Okinawa Center).
  4. Compare what “DX Suite” has read and the operator-input data. Then, the operators reinput/revise data that do not match (Okinawa Center).
  5. Prepare data for delivery and deliver in CSV format (Nagoya Center).

We are reading numerous forms, more than 13,000 per day, and up to 400,000 per month.

— Please tell us parts of the workflow that you needed to creatively adjust.

Mr. Mizuno: We created a mechanism for automating a series of tasks of transmitting forms read in a scanner using API into “DX Suite” and downloading the text data.

In addition, because the stamps that people pasted by hand at the vaccination sites would get distorted and not fit into designated frames, there was low reading accuracy. Thus, we developed a tool for extracting the vaccination stamps pasted on the upper right of preliminary exam forms as a separate image and adjusting the orientation to the tool’s image and linked it to “DX Suite.”

— Was there support from us?

Business Division 3 Division 2 Business Support Section Mr. Atsushi Mori

Mr. Mori: Yes, we received support from AI inside’s Customer Success personnel. For example, getting guidance on how to set the data processing settings that were in the handbook in various instances, such as whether to include the frame lines when creating the form or how to set the settings when the form could not be read, was helpful.

Data entry/checking goes from a two-person system to a one-person system

Business Division 3 Division 2 Business Support Section
Mr. Toshikuni Konno

— Please tell us the quantitative results of this mechanism.

Mr. Mizuno: We have just started this mechanism, so these are just numbers for July 2021; before two people—the data entrant and checker—used to work on one form, but now we only need one person., If we focus just on the human resources, we have reduced costs by about 40%, so overall, we have cut costs by about 8% – 9%.

Mr. Konno: In the workflow outside of data entry at the Okinawa Center, there is no human work between input and output; it is all automated. This is why we have succeeded in performing data conversion with a shortened lead time, being able to continue working at night and on off days.

Business Division 3 Division 2 Business Support Section Mr. Yuichi Oda

Mr. Oda: The reading accuracy of “DX Suite” matches approximately 95% of data input by hand, which is extremely high. We just need to check and revise the remaining 5% with operator manual labor.

Contribute to society in the background with BPO business’ DX

— Please tell us about the outlook for DX going forward.

Mr. Mizuno: We are proceeding with using “DX Suite”; however, it has not reached the target values for cost and resource reduction yet. To streamline the entire workflow, we need to replace all human input with AI-OCR, in my opinion. We also have high hopes for further improvements in precision and added features for AI inside.

— Lastly, please tell us your thoughts on the current initiative.

Mr. Mizuno: Our BPO business is difficult to be recognized by the world, so what we provide is behind-the-scene support. However, we feel highly motivated in being able to engage in a work that directly affects the public’s welfare amid this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. As a directive of the company, we would like to continue working on such digitization and “DX Suite” as our contribution to society.

SCSK ServiceWare Corporation
Address: Toyosu Foresia 12F, 3-2-24,Toyosu, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0061, Japan
Establishment Date: March 1983

For inquires on DX Suite please contact from here