Clinicians and administrative staff worldwide have suffered immensely in the last eighteen months despite the investment made to cope with the pandemic. Due to COVID-19, the backlog of routine work has suffered significant delays. With the ever-increasing need for our NHS to work harder and faster, and capacity created in the system is precious, not just from an operational perspective but from a staff well-being perspective as well.
It is now more important than ever to explore and embrace new technologies which have the potential to help clinicians free up NHS time so they can focus on looking after people. This is where robotic process automation (RPA) can be of particular help.
The benefits of automating processes include the following:
- Increasing the speed of tasks – automation (RPA) can process a high volume of transactions accurately and in a fraction of the time it would take a person.
- Tasks can be scheduled – bots can work on tasks sequentially and be programmed to complete them day or night.
- Free up time – by programming bots to do a lot of the transactional work, staff time can be freed up to complete more complicated and value – add tasks.
Automation (RPA) is the technology that allows anyone today to configure computer software or a “robot” to emulate and integrate the actions of a human interacting within digital systems (EMIS, SystmOne etc.) to execute a clinical/administrative process, i.e. Recalls or Cervical Smears. Put simply, the software operates a computer, mouse, and keyboard like a human – but virtually. It reads and understands what’s on the screen, copying and pasting. The Bot enters data into the systems, updates records, and saves files.
Automation (RPA) will drive a reduction in operational costs and costs of care delivery. But to develop a comprehensive benefits case, organisations should look at all clinical and non-clinical outcomes.
Key Practise benefits:
Operational benefits: Increased operational capacity and speed with a reduction in patient & treatment backlog. Automation (RPA) will reduce the cost of care by reducing the cost of delivery with a faster turnaround.
Patient Experience: Improved patient journey and experience, which will be better, faster, and more seamless delivery of care. This will provide practices with increased time for care due to a reduction in admin and manual activities.
Staff benefits: Automation (RPA) will improve staff engagement and experience by enabling them to focus on value-added activities. This will reduce attrition, burnout, staff sickness and satisfaction.
Process efficiency: Improve care quality and patient safety by reducing operational risk and variability. Manual and transactional activities and tasks get done quicker while reducing human error. Automation (RPA) will also minimise process variability.
NHS Transformation Directorate: Automation (RPA) aims to release clinicians’ capacity so they can be more efficient in dispensing valuable, skilled activities. There is a clear strategy from NHS Digital to support the health and care system in achieving the automation vision set by the NHS Transformation Directorate in its 2021 RPA in Health and Care Plan. This will support Elective Recovery Plan and the Secretary of State’s mission to increase capacity by automating a range of administrative and clinical tasks to enable staff to spend more time with patients.