Hutt Valley District Health Board (DHB) — which provides health services to 146,000 people across Hutt City and Upper Hutt City — has deployed robotic processing automation (RPA) technology from UK based Blue Prism, implemented by Quanton, to reduce the manual processing of electronic patient referrals and says it has identified possible savings of almost $1.6m and 9,800 hours a year from wider deployment of the technology.
According to Quanton, the systems used by GPs and Hutt Valley hospitals are unable to talk to each other easily, so patient information for appointments was being moved manually between systems.
"Hutt Valley DHB says it estimates RPA will return more than 3,300 hours to the organisation per year – just from e-referral processing," Quanton said.
It added: "The use of RPA is not about reducing staff as they were facing increasing demand for higher levels of clinical, administrative support, which was stretching its resourcing.
"RPA allows the DHB to free clinical support staff up from the more tedious, but still critical, manual processing, so that they can focus on other areas of their job that help enhance patient care and clinical outcomes.
"That has had the added benefit of improving staff satisfaction as they are freed up from repetitive, menial tasks to focus on more engaging and customer focused work."
Quanton said it had has used Blue Prism RPA to automate the collection of e-referrals, complete validation checks, update Hutt Valley DHB's computer systems' demographic data and create the referral processes and then update the status of the referral in the DHB’s Concerto system.
Quanton founder and managing director Gary Green said the processes required for electronic referrals were highly repetitive and rules-based, making them ideal for RPA, and any registrations that could not be completed were referred to staff for assessment.
“The human workforce is not completely discounted from the end-to-end process. They remain critical in completing business exceptions and tertiary tasks, such as confirming data quality and assessing input related issues that affect data quality.”
Quanton said RPA had improved processing accuracy: all processes completed by automation are 100 percent compliant with regulatory and process requirements and 100 percent accurate.
"Hutt Valley DHB is looking to expand the application of RPA with an opportunity assessment identifying eight processes for automation, including refreshing Excel reports, updating contact details and clinical coding – with nearly $1.6 million in possible benefits and the freeing up of more than 9,800 hours of manual work," it said.
Green said Capital Coast DHB and Wairarapa DHB were also looking at deploying RPA.
Earlier this year Computerworld NZ reported both 2degrees and Spark were looking to implement RPA.