NHS IT, Records and Data

06.08.20

Adopting intelligent automation technology in the health service

Darren Atkins, Chief Technology Officer (Artificial Intelligence & Automation), East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust featured on Episode 11 of NHE’s Finger on the Pulse podcast.

 

“What I say to all the organisations I engage with is to forget the technology and come up with: Why do you want to do automation, what are you looking to achieve in the next 12-18 months, and set yourself a progress of work”

Those are the words of wisdom of Darren Atkins, Chief Technology Officer (Artificial Intelligence & Automation) at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust and an experienced head when it comes to automation and intelligent solutions within the health sector.

Technology is already an integral cog in the healthcare machine and the coronavirus pandemic has merely further accelerated this widespread adoption of solutions, as health and care professionals battle to overcome logistical challenges, changes to working patterns and practices and attempt to free up key manhours from time-consuming administrative tasks in order to spend more time with patients.

This is where automation technology can play a major role in Darren’s view. Having been involved with integrated automation into his own trust for the past few years, he and his team have managed to free up thousands of hours a month by transferring slow, menial tasks from human workers to robot counterparts.

Does that sound inherently sci-fi? Absolutely.

Yet, it is becoming a reality in places such as East Suffolk and North Essex NHS FT. The technology remains in its early days and, as is the benefits of these more digital technology solutions, continues to be iteratively improved upon regularly and shared between trusts and organisations on the NHS Digital Exchange, a platform Darren had an instrumental role in establishing.

As Darren explains on the podcast too, he has ambitions for the Digital Exchange to extend beyond just health too: “Through the Digital Exchange, my future goal is that it shouldn’t just be the NHS. It should be the public sector.”

A better connected, collaborative network across public services has been sought for years by countless people, organisations and governments and, at least in the field of automation technology, it appears to be becoming a reality. What is essential at these early stages for any successful adoption of automation solutions though is a willingness to engage and be open to the technology.

“What’s really important is to establish a culture of engagement from the very outset.”

To do so requires assurances that the technology is reliable, safe and represents good value for money; all aspects we discuss in length with Darren on the latest podcast episode.

But, let’s just take safety in this instance. One of the biggest fears we’ve witnessed in recent years is the idea that taking control, or at the very least these administrative processes, away from human workers and allowing robots and algorithms to complete them will lead to greater numbers of errors and mistakes. Yet, as Darren explains, that is largely just a common misconception.

“What the robots are doing are [just] replicating what a human does. Now, a robot doesn’t make mistakes unless you teach it to make mistakes.”

Similarly, when something does go wrong, these solutions can often provide a much more granular audit of the mistake – allowing for a more effective and thorough investigation, ensuring the problem does not happen again. Effective, accurate governance in these systems, depending on the tasks they perform, is an essential step of the process too in Darren’s eyes to changing the perception of digital, AI and automation technologies.

To listen to the full conversation with Darren, tune into Episode 11 of NHE’s Finger on the Pulse podcast:

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Nursing recruitment efforts boosted by funding support

22/09/2020Nursing recruitment efforts boosted by funding support

Thousands more nurses will look to be recruited to hospitals, mental health and community trusts across England following a multi-million-pound f... more >
Minister for Care publishes adult social winter plan

21/09/2020Minister for Care publishes adult social winter plan

The Minister for Care, Helen Whatley, has today (21st Sept) published a letter to local authorities in relation to the adult social care winter p... more >
Improving the quality of end of life care through better planning, support

21/09/2020Improving the quality of end of life care through better planning, support

Judith Richardson, Acting Director for Health and Social Care, NICE Around half a million people die in England each year. With an ageing po... more >

editor's comment

26/06/2020Adapting and Innovating

Matt Roberts, National Health Executive Editorial Lead. NHE May/June 2020 Edition We’ve been through so much as a health sector and a society in recent months with coronavirus and nothing can take away from the loss and difficulties that we’ve faced but it vital we also don’t disregard the amazing efforts we’ve witnessed. Staff have gone above and beyond, whole hospitals and trusts have flexed virtually at w... read more >

last word

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad: ‘We all have a role to play in getting innovations quicker’

Haseeb Ahmad, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), sits down with National Health Executive as part of our Last Word Q&A series. Would you talk us th... more > more last word articles >

the scalpel's daily blog

Improving the quality of end of life care through better planning, support

21/09/2020Improving the quality of end of life care through better planning, support

Judith Richardson, Acting Director for Health and Social Care, NICE Around half a million people die in England each year. With an ageing population, the annual number of deaths is projected to increase. In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in the excess death rate. It is important that we identify effective, supporti... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

23/09/2019NHS England dementia director prescribes rugby for mental health and dementia patients

Reason to celebrate as NHS says watching rugby can be good for your mental health and wellbeing. As the best rugby players in the world repr... more >
Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Being on the receiving end of some “thanks” can make communit... more >
Nurses named as least-appreciated public sector workers

13/06/2019Nurses named as least-appreciated public sector workers

Nurses have been named as the most under-appreciated public sector professionals as new research reveals how shockingly under-vauled our NHS, edu... more >
Creating the Cardigan integrated care centre

10/06/2019Creating the Cardigan integrated care centre

Peter Skitt, county director and commissioner for Ceredigion Hywel Dda University Health Board, looks ahead to the new integrated care centre bei... more >

interviews

Organ Donation Week: Having the conversation

11/09/2020Organ Donation Week: Having the conversation

As part of Organ Donation Week, NHE’s Matt Roberts spoke with our Managing Director Roy Rowlands about the importance of raising aware... more >
Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

24/10/2019Matt Hancock says GP recruitment is on the rise to support ‘bedrock of the NHS’

Today, speaking at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) annual conference, Matt Hancock highlighted what he believes to be the three... more >
NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

17/09/2019NHS dreams come true for Teesside domestic

Over 20 years ago, a Teesside hospital cleaner put down her mop and took steps towards her midwifery dreams. Lisa Payne has been delivering ... more >
How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

24/10/2018How can winter pressures be dealt with? Introduce a National Social Care Service, RCP president suggests

A dedicated national social care service could be a potential solution to surging demand burdening acute health providers over the winter months,... more >

health service focus

View all News