How Netsmart accelerates response time 10X with Responsive AI

Key results

faster responses with AI Assistant
more proposals submitted

It could take five to 10 minutes to manually find something in the library or to take two things and merge them together. With AI Assistant, it is actually answering, on average, our questions in 30 seconds.

– Andrew Mersman, Senior Director of Solution Consulting at Netsmart

What you’ll learn

The gist

Netsmart provides software and IT solutions to community-based healthcare providers outside the hospital setting in the U.S. After they built a trustworthy Content Library in Responsive, user adoption increased by 540 percent, and they submitted 67 percent more proposals within 10 months. To accommodate a 94 percent increase in external information request complexity, Netsmart deployed Responsive AI Assistant and quickly accelerated response time from five minutes to 30 seconds per answer — a 10X improvement — on average.

The rundown

Netsmart response challenges

  • Lack of centralized, response content and processes cultivated “shadow” response teams and underutilization of AI capabilities, resulting in  inefficiency and missed opportunities for optimization.
  • Outdated Content Library in short supply of new product information caused uncertainty among users, with only 66 percent of the content being usable.
  • Proposal team members, sales, and product management associates were at risk of burnout due to repetitive requests and inefficiency. The proposal team felt more reactive than proactive — and couldn’t keep up.
  • External information request complexity increased by 94 percent, requiring more narrative answers, extending response times, compounding challenges in content and process.

Impact and results

  • Integrated use of Responsive AI drives impact on multiple levels, including:
    • Accelerating time to respond by 10X using AI Assistant, redirecting 3K+ hours to quality.
    • Accelerating go/no-go decisions (93-percent go-forward rate) through automated document shredding in Requirements Analysis.
    • Automatically identifying and marking sections, questions and sub-questions that need a response through the intuitive mapping process.
    • Automating responses to information requests by identifying the most relevant Q&A pairs in the Content Library.
  • Higher throughput: 67 percent more proposals were submitted within 10 months of using Responsive — without adding headcount.
  • More efficient source of truth: Reduced outdated content by 43 percent while growing the library by 105 percent and solidifying trust in the platform, as evidenced by 540 percent growth in user adoption.

Optimizing Strategic Response Management for AI success

Between 2019 – when Netsmart started using Responsive – and 2022, Netsmart added 13 new products, but no additional proposal team members. Content had exploded by a third.

“Shadow” response teams emerged as sales and proposal teams grew frustrated. They developed their own workflows to create responses, which devolved into silos and duplicate work for team members — especially subject matter experts (SMEs) — involved with multiple projects.

Netsmart tasked Andrew Mersman, Senior Director of Solution Consulting, with repairing the fractured approach. With the Responsive Platform, he realized the organization already had the right solution to upgrade to Strategic Response Management (SRM), an approach that would allow them to respond to complex information requests with unprecedented speed and the latest, most compelling content to drive more business.

Andrew realigned the team, re-implemented Responsive and integrated Salesforce to update the Content Library and establish it as the single source of truth for cross-functional SRM.

Increasing visibility into response processes

Ten months later, Netsmart reported dramatic results.

Up-to-date Content Library 98%
Content Library Growth +105%
RFP Go-Forward Rate 93%
User Adoption Growth 540%


Unifying response content and processes on a platform that users could rely on helped target the shadow response teams. The Salesforce integration also helped: It enables users to launch Responsive projects directly from Salesforce, eliminating the need to communicate, collaborate or store content on other applications. “We’re living A-to-Z in Responsive to complete our projects now,” Andrew said.

Re-implementing Responsive also increased SRM visibility across the organization. “Responsive has awesome reporting capabilities,” Mersman said. He takes project data, combines it with elements pulled from Salesforce and other Netsmart systems, and puts it all into a data warehouse to closely analyze trends.

Our go-forward rate for RFPs is sitting at 93 percent, where last year we were at 65 percent. That’s huge. It’s impacting the bottom line at the company because we don’t have the stumbling blocks anymore and are advancing to the next phase of an RFP.

– Andrew Mersman, Senior Director of Solution Consulting at Netsmart

AI fortune favors the SRM platform-prepared

With their Responsive platform dialed-in, Netsmart realized larger gains from the platform’s AI capabilities. “We had to get the foundation right…foundation as in processes to capture content and make sure people were using Responsive correctly,” Andrew said.

At its core, Responsive has been driven by AI technology since its inception in 2015. Unlike general AI tools that may offer some generalized support for developing response content, Responsive’s comprehensive platform leverages SRM-specific AI across a wide spectrum of tasks. This holistic approach helps users benefit from AI-enhanced advantages in every step of the response management process – from intake to go/no-go decision making to collaborator identification to writing and more – setting a new standard for efficiency and effectiveness in responding to complex information requests. All Responsive AI features train on a client company’s specific data, which is not shared externally with other customers or third parties.

As with any properly trained AI, the more you use it, the smarter it gets. In the first 10 months following the Responsive re-implementation, Netsmart made huge gains using these Responsive AI capabilities:

Requirements Analysis:

Netsmart uses Requirements Analysis to help identify  whether their solution is a viable fit for what the prospect or customer needs. Using AI-powered document analysis, Requirements Analysis quickly gathers and understands RFx requirements to save valuable time by identifying opportunities that may not be a good fit. For those that are deemed most winnable, Requirements Analysis also helps build a compliance matrix, responsibility matrix, and a response action plan by identifying the right SMEs with the knowledge and bandwidth to complete each section.

We use Requirements Analysis as part of our go/no-go process on proposals. The shredding capability allows us to quickly identify key themes, important dates and identify gaps. And running traceability before we submit makes sure that strategic answers are super polished and accurate.

– Andrew Mersman, Senior Director of Solution Consulting at Netsmart

  • Project Import: During Project Import, mapping identifies sections and questions found in an RFx document, which allows the user to import them into the Responsive Platform and start answering them. “When we get a document within a proposal, we upload it to Responsive, then the AI analyzes it and identifies the questions we need to answer. It’s our first step when we build out a response project.”
  • Auto Respond: Auto Respond uses machine learning to auto-fill responses based on the top-recommended answer from the Netsmart Content Library. The AI-enabled recommendation engine suggests relevant answers when clicking on a question, pulling from past responses in the Content Library and offering suggestions before the user finishes typing. Users can apply, override or copy recommendations for quick insertion into the answer field. “So it’s really starting to speed up, pulling that information from our library so that someone doesn’t have to manually go in and start to apply that answer to the question,” Andrew said.

All of these AI benefits drove significant efficiency gains for Netsmart. But when Andrew learned about AI Assistant, he saw an opportunity to improve efficiency even more.

Deploying AI Assistant for 10X faster responses

With a 67-percent increase in proposals submitted and a 94-percent increase in external information request complexity, Netsmart response teams were already running at full throttle. They needed a game-changing breakthrough if they wanted to continue to improve efficiency — and keep up as volume continued to increase. Andrew wasn’t sure what that breakthrough could be until he discovered Responsive AI Assistant.

AI Assistant is a generative AI that draws from the Netsmart moderated Content Library to draft new responses in seconds. Once a response is generated, users can refine it even further by using built-in prompts to:

  • Summarize lengthy responses
  • Convert text to plain language
  • Improve readability
  • Change passive voice to active voice
  • Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors

The biggest concern was maintaining the security and privacy of their data. “Actually,” Andrew said, “that was a slam dunk. It was easily overcome.”

Netsmart serves the human services and post-acute healthcare industry and answers RFXs for clinical systems, public sector agencies and mental health services. While some responses to external requests are based on regulated, cut-and-dry answers, no healthcare organization or consultancy asks a question in the same way. Or, they may ask for a unique combination of answers. AI Assistant takes in each question, analyzes the Content Library and stitches together an accurate, seamless answer.

It could take five to 10 minutes to manually find something in the library or to take two things and merge them together. With AI Assistant, it is actually answering, on average, our questions in 30 seconds.

– Andrew Mersman, Senior Director of Solution Consulting at Netsmart

Now with more time in their back pocket, Netsmart goes beyond checking the boxes on responses. They personalize and weave in win themes. “We’re leveling up the output of what we’re producing,” he said.

Accuracy, adoption and embracing the AI era

Implementing AI Assistant was driven by the need to streamline processes, and focus on supporting clients, ultimately facilitating rapid scaling, user adoption, and stakeholder engagement.

Netsmart has in-house AI development expertise for their own products, so Andrew is well-versed on the complexity of AI solutions. He recognized that level of complexity and sophistication in AI Assistant from the beginning. “RFPs are complicated, right? If it were easy, we would have built our own solution,” Andrew said. “We need to remain focused on supporting our clients in their mission…That’s why we focused on partnering with you versus trying to reinvent the wheel and get frustrated.”

Once AI Assistant was set up, Andrew worked fast to scale quickly and get users on board in a timely manner. Through training and education, he won over these stakeholders and relied on them to help win over other associates. Andrew’s team also sends out a weekly email to spotlight key features and has built short training courses on how to use the AI.

As use of AI Assistant proliferates across the organization, Andrew forecasts more than 3,000 hours per year will be saved. This newfound time will allow responders to strategically enhance AI responses to personalize them for clinical or operational audiences. Andrew envisions AI Assistant “really starting to predict and help see the future success of a proposal.”

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