Image of the bottom half of healthcare workers walking down a corridor

Revolutionising Healthcare: West Yorkshire's Innovative Approach to Intelligent Automation

The global healthcare industry is confronting a significant shortage of approximately 10 million healthcare workers, and this crisis is further compounded by issues such as healthcare worker burnout, high turnover rates, and resource constraints. In response to these pressing challenges, some members of the West Yorkshire Integrated Care System (ICS) embarked on a ground-breaking journey into the realm of Intelligent Automation (IA).

The primary objective of this ambitious project is to streamline healthcare operations, enhance overall efficiency, and, most importantly, improve patient outcomes. At its core, this initiative seeks to reduce the burden of manual tasks, alleviate administrative overhead, and empower healthcare professionals to focus on delivering high-quality care.

In a healthcare landscape characterised by skyrocketing demands and limited resources, compounded by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic recovery, members of the West Yorkshire Integrated Care System (ICS) recognised the need for strategic innovation. To address these challenges, several of the regional NHS Trusts entered a strategic partnership with e18 Innovation, a pioneer in Intelligent Automation for the NHS. This partnership aimed to leverage IA as a transformative solution to the myriad challenges facing healthcare delivery.

Rob Child, RPA Programme Manager at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, lauded e18 Innovation's role, saying, "e18 Innovation has been a linchpin in the journey towards operational excellence within the NHS. Their involvement goes beyond technical implementation; it's about fostering a collaborative ethos across various NHS segments.”

IA, a technological innovation, emerged as a critical asset in the battle against resource shortages and the need for enhanced operational efficiency. With digital workers operating around the clock, IA frees up clinical and non-clinical staff from the burdens of administrative tasks, enabling them to better cope with the unprecedented demands currently faced by the system.

One crucial aspect of the West Yorkshire ICS Automation project was its human-centric development approach. It prioritised the active involvement of frontline staff, clinical teams, administrators, and managers in the project's various phases. Feedback sessions, surveys, and workshops were conducted collaboratively to ensure that the implementation of automation aligns closely with the specific needs and expectations of the healthcare workforce.

Julian Chadha, RPA General Manager at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, expressed excitement about the future of automation, stating, "It’s a very exciting time, and we are only at the start of our automation journey, so looking forward to expanding the scope across the organisation."

The partnership with e18 Innovation proved instrumental in navigating the intricacies of IA implementation. Richard Atkinson, Head of Digital Delivery at Harrogate & District NHS Foundation Trust, spoke highly of this partnership, stating, "We chose to partner with e18 because of their extensive experience and solid reputation as experts in implementing automation solutions in the NHS. We are confident that e18 is best placed to not only support our organisation but also help enable a collaborative approach to automating processes across the region."

The regional IA project serves as a testament to the transformative potential of technological innovation in healthcare. It has not only enhanced administrative efficiency, but it is also delivering in a more patient-centric and resilient healthcare ecosystem.

One shining example of the project's success can be found in the management of cancer care at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. The project streamlined the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) process, a critical component of early colorectal cancer detection. Automation played a pivotal role in improving efficiency by efficiently handling patient samples, managing data, and scheduling follow-ups based on results. Most notably, it significantly reduced patient wait times, expediting the diagnostic journey and aligning with critical NHS goals for cancer prognosis.

Beyond its impact on patient care, the Automation project has yielded substantial benefits in terms of staffing and cost management. By alleviating administrative burdens, automation has enabled more effective pathway coordination, even amid resource constraints. This operational efficiency has, in turn, reduced clinical risks associated with delayed or missed follow-ups, further enhancing the trusts ability to meet performance targets.

Ruby Ali, Associate Director of Operations at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, emphasised the collaborative ethos, stating, "The NHS's pledge to superior patient care resonates through our automation journey. The collaboration with e18 Innovation has been instrumental in navigating automation opportunities with a lens of efficiency and collaboration."

One innovative application of automation that has garnered attention is in data management and patient tracking. Real-time access to patient data and results has been a game-changer, empowering healthcare professionals to make informed decisions swiftly. This innovation has not only optimised treatment pathways but also set a precedent for harnessing data-driven insights to improve clinical outcomes.

The undeniable cost-effectiveness of these automated processes cannot be overstated. By reducing inefficiencies, the NHS is better positioned to allocate resources where they are needed most, ensuring a judicious use of funds while upholding high standards of patient care.

Image credit: iStock

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