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NHS trust launches Digital Exchange for Automation


Mark Say Managing Editor

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An East Anglian Hospital trust has set up a platform to encourage the deployment of intelligent automation in the health service.

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) has launched the NHS Digital Exchange for Automation to help trusts securely share their work on the technology – which integrates robotic process automation with AI – and to reduce the duplication of effort.

The trust’s chief technology officer for AI and automation, Darren Atkins, described the initiative in an article for Health Tech Newspaper, saying it allows NHS bodies free access to existing process automations that have been deployed in others. This is available to any trust signed up to the Blue Prism Cloud Platform and includes work developed at ESNEFT.

He said the platform already holds more than 40 processes and objects that have been customised to access common NHS systems, including System C Medway, Kainos Evolve, the Electronic Referral System and EMIS Web.

All of the content is developed and owned by the NHS and its use is strictly restricted to NHS organisations.

Vibrant marketplace

“The intention is to create a vibrant internal marketplace where all trusts are collaborating to streamline and optimise the most critical processes within the NHS,” Atkins said. “The ethos is one of transparency, partnership and sharing.”

He pointed to ESNEFT’s existing deployments of intelligent automation in processes including handling GP referrals – first deployed in July 2018 – re-assigning cancelled appointments, HR and finance, saying they have saved over 36,000 staff hours in 18 months.

Atkins also cited an estimate by the Institute of Public Policy Research in 2018 that automation could save the NHS £12.5 billion per year.  

Image by Rolling Dice CC by 2.0 via Flickr


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