Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust (D&G) has begun to deploy robotic process automation for some of its processes following the successful development of a proof of concept.
It has been working with healthcare IT consultancy Cloud21 using the UiPth hyperautomation platform to assess the potential, and is now working on applying the technology in the end-of-day clinic outcome review process.
The trust’s digital team is aiming to automate the current manual process to transfer patient outcomes at the end of the day from the electronic check-in kiosks into its patient administration system.
It has also indicated that the next process will focus on the NHS e-Referral Service, automating the downloading of notes from patient records to internal systems such the health portal and document management system. This is aimed at providing the data to clinicians at the time of need in the system they use.
Need for integration
Neil Perry, director digital transformation at D&G, said: “The need to integrate services across the wider health system is growing in priority. I’ve been watching the progress of process automation over the past few years and wanted to understand if it could help us provide a seamless best of breed solution for our clinicians.
“We will start by automating some of the back office functions within older applications which have limited integration capability. These serve us well and we would not want to switch out, but we do need to address the areas that lack interoperability.
“The proof of concept demonstrated we can use software robots to determine whether patients are for follow-up or discharged, for example.”
He added that there have been integration issues with the e-Referrals Service and that the documentation has had to be manually organised for clinics.
“We are looking to process automation with advanced analytics to do this for us,” he said. “I see this as intelligent automation, which I think is the key to the future of healthcare delivery.”
The trust is also looking at the possibilities for using automation for processes such as routine orders for diagnostics upon outpatient referral or admission, two-way communications with patients and proactive healthcare through chatbots.
Image: Joseph L Ridgway II, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons