An NHS trust is to trial software robots to automate administrative parts of its corporate services arm.
The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust today announced the launch of a Centre of Excellence for robotic process automation (RPA) technology, which involves the use of software to automate mundane and repetitive business tasks.
In the case of the NHS trust, RPA will be used to automate high volume tasks to support staff in finance, human resources, procurement and informatics.
The technology will be supplied by leading RPA provider Automation Anywhere, which is backed by Japenese investment giant SotfBank.
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust aims to become a model of best practice for RPA to other trusts. Successful implementation could see RPA rolled out to other NHS trusts across the UK.
It follows a successful pilot in which some aspects of the trust’s finance departments were automated.
Automation Anywhere’s Enterprise Platform will be used, with the goal of making the trust more efficient, reducing costs and freeing up resources to concentrate on patient care.
“We are pleased to be supporting Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation trust by providing technologies that can help automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks and create opportunities for their employees to collaborate on critical tasks that matter, such as providing clinical and non-clinical staff with the support needed to deliver high-quality, patient centred care,” said Heather Bentley, head of customer success Europe at Automation Anywhere.
Taking the robot out of the human
RPA, which is sometimes referred to as the technology that “takes the robot out of the human” because of the way that it frees workers from performing repetitive tasks, is increasingly being employed by organisations.
It has been shown to increase worker satisfaction and eliminate human error, leading to strong growth among US medium-sized businesses.
Although one of the benefits of RPA is the ability to reduce staffing costs, Sandra Easton, chief financial officer at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said there are “no plans to reduce employee numbers”.
“We strive to improve the quality of care and patient experience through the most efficient use of our resources,” she said.
“Investment in technical excellence, like RPA, will help us make our corporate services more productive and efficient, enabling the trust to provide the highest standard of patient care and offer the best value for money for the tax-payer.
“The implementation of the new Centre of Excellence enables us to deploy our workforce on tasks of greater value.”