As the BBC reports the hospital receives 2,000 GP referrals creating a massive manual workload for front line staff, and already the software has helped free up more than 500 hours of medical secretaries’ time, reducing the time taken to process each GP referral from 15 or 20 minutes to five minutes, an efficiency they believe will save the NHS £220,000 within a year.
As the New Statesman writes this effect scaled across the NHS whole could save £12.5bn per year – the equivalent of 10% of its annual budget. In addition, it is estimated a further £6bn could be saved through automation in social care.
The Cloud as Smart Middleware – Automating “Swivel Chair Integration”
Although conversations about systems integration in Healthcare tend to focus on the EHR (Electronic Health Record) applications and the structured data updates to and from these, the reality is that they deal with a multitude of different, unstructured information flows, from emails through PDF documents and more.
Therefore smoothing process flow across these systems is often a function of “swivel chair integration”, meaning that staff download information from one system, and then turn around and rekey it into another.
Across a large enterprise with multiple processes and multiple legacy systems, this can add up to a mountain of manual workload, and the simple principle of Virtual Workers is that this type of mundane, repeated activity is ideal for automating through technology.
Similarly conversations about adopting Cloud computing tend to always focus on migrating existing legacy systems to the Cloud, however the more powerful opportunity is to leverage new Cloud-based capabilities to better integrate those existing applications: An investment to augment and enhance the value of the existing IT.
Virtual Workers is a perfect example – An advanced technology that is best adopted As A Service and that can automate the integration between multiple existing legacy systems. This type of system integration to enable streamlined business processes is one of those scenarios that is a major pain point for every and all IT implementations, and so all organizations can benefit from this approach.
The DigitalHealth.net case study describes:
“The technology was deployed in five specialist clinical units: neurology, cardiology, urology, nephrology and haematology.The Thoughtonomy Virtual Workforce platform includes three ‘virtual workers’ at Ipswich Hospital, which actively monitor incoming referrals from the national GP Electronic Referral Service (eRS) in real-time, 24 hours a day.
As soon as a referral is received, the virtual worker reads the content and extracts the reason for referral.
It then retrieves all relevant referral data and supporting clinical information, such as scan and blood test results from disparate sources, before merging everything into a single PDF document.
The virtual worker then uploads the document into the trust’s administrative database and alerts the lead consultant that the referral is ready for review and grading.”