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Client story

Unlocking the benefits of Intelligent Automation in the NHS

Helping Kettering General Hospital to make a difference

Managing patient processes such as GP referrals and appointment bookings places a significant administrative burden on NHS hospitals, who must ensure that appointments are made as appropriate and patient records are up to date and dealt with correctly. Doing this manually is extremely time-consuming - particularly in ‘Covid times’, and it is unfortunately not uncommon for backlogs or processing delays to occur, ultimately impacting the patient experience.

By implementing Intelligent Automation technology, hospitals are able to manage these processes in a much more efficient way. There’s also the opportunity to share the learnings and automations developed in one hospital to other hospitals who are using automation software.This helps to maximise efficiency and potentially cost savings for the benefit of the wider NHS.

Working with Kettering General Hospital

We partnered with Kettering General Hospital to help them benefit from Intelligent Automation technology. Following a successful Proof of Value project automating their Covid-19 Situational Report, we identified two further high-volume, repetitive processes at Kettering that were ideally suited for automation. These were the ‘Unappointed Patients’ process, where outpatient referrals that are no longer relevant (for legitimate health reasons) are removed from the system; and GP Referrals, where hospital appointments are booked for patients at the request of primary care services. The first process created a lot of ‘noise’ in internal systems and the second speaks for itself - once people are referred to a hospital they need an appointment booked as soon as possible.

The Unappointed process had a big impact on staff time, with a year-long backlog to go through due to covid-19. This prevented staff from focusing on other work and was a drain on the team's morale due to feeling they weren't doing the best they could.

Automating patient referral processes to eliminate backlogs

Patients Unappointed

Estimated Staff time saving: 550 hours per year
Estimated Money saved
: £10k

GP Referrals

Estimated Staff time saving: 1467 hours per year
Estimated Money saved
: £23k

How we did it

We built an Intelligent Automation bot to automate the Unappointed process and clear the backlog of outpatient referrals that needed removing from the hospital's system. Instead of requiring a human employee to delete each entry individually, the bot opens an Excel spreadsheet of the referrals, accesses the corresponding records on the patient administration system, and automatically discharges them.

We also automated the GP referral process. When a GP creates a referral for their patient, it enters the e-RS system. Before automation, a staff member had to access this system, read any comments on the record, and book an appointment for the patient at the hospital. With Intelligent Automation, the bot automatically books appointments. Importantly, it filters records with complicated comments, passing them on to a person for approval to ensure that each patient's precise needs are met.

How we made the difference

Many thanks for everything - you have been fab and very patient with me. The process/automation is great and will take a lot of pressure from my teams.

Clare Clarke, Subject Matter Expert, Kettering General Hospital

By running the Unappointed bot 5-6 hours per day, Kettering General gained an estimated staff time saving of 550 hours per year, with an equivalent value of £10k. The human factor in this work was perhaps even more important here, as the repetitive nature of these tasks were severely demotivating staff. By pursuing Intelligent Automation to solve this problem, Kettering was able to free up staff time and ensure they could carry out more value-adding work.

The GP Referral process promised similarly impressive benefits, saving the hospital 1,467 staff hours per year, equivalent to £23k or one full time employee.

With Kettering General Hospital working as a Group with Northampton General Hospital, this automation work adds to the centre of excellence being developed in Northamptonshire to , helpscale automation technology out across the NHS and deliver even greater impact.

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