How automation-driven innovation is helping the NHS to accelerate care

02/07/2020 | blog, News

Recent news claiming that NHS waiting lists ‘could hit 10 million this year’ is missing the real news about the pace of innovation and change that we’re now seeing across NHS – which will ensure that these figures prove greatly exaggerated.

The global pandemic’s impact has been accelerating the evolution of virtual health across the NHS – driving an underpinning digital ecosystem of clinical, policy, regulatory commissioning, purchasing and technology environments – at an unprecedented operating speed. Initial results are compelling with multiple technological innovations; from virtual appointments, online pre-assessments, automated diagnostic requesting and tracking and online pre-assessments – through to outpatient support and shared back office functions, now being launched in weeks – rather than years. This level of this wide-scale accelerated change will almost certainly help to significantly accelerate the reduction of the waiting list backlogs too.  

We’re in a strong position to comment, as through our COVID-19 Response Program, our cloud-based intelligent automation platform, that runs smart digital workers, is enabling a fast-growing number of NHS Trusts to swiftly adapt to unprecedented operational demand. The injection of digital workers into the NHS resource pool that can interoperate with data across all IT systems, allow a wide range of activities to be automated at unprecedented speed across multiple functions – to overcome a huge range of challenges and deliver optimal care.

This demand surge continues, with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay, North East London Commissioning Support Unit, Great Western Hospitals and Leeds Teaching Hospitals and Care Quality Commission all recently adopting our cloud platform.  Not only will this assist in fighting the crisis, but importantly provide the foundation for delivering sustainable long-term transformation that accelerates delivery of better patient outcomes.  Mike Ogonovsky, Assistant Director of Informatics at Aneurin Bevan Health Board explains how they are focusing on optimising patient care with innovative use of technology;

“There are huge gains to be made in terms of incorporating intelligent automation into healthcare processes. For us the imperative is patient safety and experience. The manual transfer of data between the systems used to manage the patient journey through primary care, ambulance service, secondary care and back into community care brings with it the risk of error and delay. It also takes valuable time out of the day for highly trained staff who should be focused on caring for patients. We see an opportunity to overcome this challenge using Blue Prism Cloud’s Digital Workforce and are taking the first steps to re-shape our processes so that we can continue to move the bar for quality of patient care ever higher.”

The positive impact automation can have on patient outcomes, is also recognised by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay. Marc Hadwin, Head of Digital Services at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay adds; The Blue Prism Cloud platform will help us accelerate our plans and make it easier for us to expand the range of functions we support rapidly. The goal of improving patient experience sits at the forefront of our strategic initiative to apply intelligent automation into our overall operating model.”

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay are employing Digital Workers to help patients book, prepare for and follow up appointments – to ensure everyone receives a wealth of tailored communications, confirming each step of their treatment. With 600,000 hospital appointments booked a year, there is no way staff could proactively manage that level of personalised communication manually. For medical staff too, they see countless opportunities for removing the daily burden of updating patient record systems so that they can dedicate their time to providing frontline patient care.

These Trusts join a community of healthcare organisations who are sharing their tried and tested automations using the NHS Digital Exchange (DX) that allows NHS teams to further accelerate the deployment of new automations. A library of pre-built automation assets that cover more than 40 processes tackling enhanced access to services, and patient communication from admissions through to outpatient support are being made available. 

Automations enabling key back office support for recruitment, HR onboarding, and finance processing are also on hand through the NHS DX. Without the need for each Trust to start designing and building automations from scratch, teams can expand the impact of their Digital Workforce faster than ever. As each Trust contributes new assets into the fast-growing library of automations, the benefit of this technology is multiplied across the country and delivering optimal results on public sector investment.

Ultimately, key enabling technologies, like intelligent automation, are increasingly being used collaboratively across the NHS to solve a wide range of challenges, to generate a wide range of new patient care opportunities and will remove backlogs much faster, improving patient care and reducing clinical risk- while liberating NHS human and financial resources to do more too.

You can hear about how Darren Atkins Chief Technology Officer at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust has spearheaded the initiative to create an NHS DX through which automations can be shared at no cost with other NHS bodies across the country. In this video he sets out his vision for integrating digital workers into the very fabric of this treasured national institution and discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the deployment of intelligent automation solutions across the health sector

Click here to view the video

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