Steps on the road to Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Part One

Author: Chris RandallDate: 1 week 5 days Ago

In July, as part of reviewing Corporate processes to identify non value adding elements, myself and other members of the Finance team met with a Chief Technical Officer of a local Foundation Trust to explore how they were using robotics, a journey that they have been on for over 2 ½ years. It became evident that the use of RPA wasn’t limited to Corporate Services.
 
So what is RPA?
 
Robotic process automation (RPA) refers to software that can be easily programmed to do basic tasks that emulate the actions of humans carrying out office-based work.  This frees up our workforce from the repetitive, time intensive tasks that slow them down, so they can focus on the value-added tasks to improve patient care and support our Happy Hospital’s vision.
 
Automation allows us to unlock the value of our human team and enable them to do more and achieve more —helping us to deliver reliable hospitals and happy staff.
 
First Steps
 
In order to get a sense of which Trust processes this technology could be applied to, a number of exploratory workshops were carried out with Finance, HR and Outpatient colleagues. The findings of these initial workshops were very promising, identifying 22 Outpatient processes, 18 Finance processes and 12 HR processes that could be automated.
 
Reviewing volumes and time taken for each process allowed this to be honed down to the following process candidate list for an RPA rollout;
 
Outpatient

  • Automating the extraction of new referrals received in eRS and uploading to Medway
  • Automating the appointment cancellation process from SMS text messages
  • Automating the appointment cancellation process from the web portal form
  • Automating the clinic cancellation process
  • Automating the Consultant to Consultant process, reducing consultants and administration time

Finance

  • Automate the agency invoicing validation process

Workforce

  • Automate the Approval to Recruit (ATR) Process
  • Automate the starter and leavers process

Our plan is to implement a cloud deployment of the Intelligent Automation SAAS-based Blue Prism Cloud platform. The platform offers much more than just robotic processing; it includes web forms, Optical Character Recognition, ChatBots, Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence services, all provided and supported by one supplier, giving a fast route to return on investment and a firm foundation for a scalable business transformation.  The platform requires no investment in infrastructure from the Trust and access to the Trust system is through the front end in the same way as any other user and therefore doesn’t require any complex back end jiggery pokery (a phrase that sheds some light on my level of technical competency).
 
We have successfully secured approved from our Executive team to implement the RPA solution and negotiated the many complexities of contract negotiation which was completed at the end of October. The next step is to build the platform and do a myriad of technical things that I am not really competent to describe, to train up our staff in development of automations and the plan is to roll out our first automation by February…
 
Watch this space.