If you believe what you read in the media robots are taking over the world. We are all going to lose our jobs and be unable to provide for our families. Ignoring the media hype though it is true that over time job roles will change as lower value tasks are automated and artificial intelligence provides decision support to higher skilled job roles.
Whether we like it or not the bots are here and accelerated growth over the next few years will force organisations to embrace this technology or lose the competitive edge.
At East Suffolk & North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), Nick Hulme, our inspirational CEO and leader created a culture simply called Time Matters. Time is a measure that is recognised and understood by everyone in the organisation. The belief at ESNEFT is if we can use AI technology to free up time for our clinical and corporate staff then this will allow us to spend more time with patients.
The success of ESNEFT's AI strategy is measured by time only. In the first month of operation 300 hours were saved. Twelve months later some 4500 hours a month are being added to the time matters saving bank.
Measuring success by time and using this to encourage staff engagement ensures AI technology is non-threatening and readily accepted. Given the high vacancy gap, the use of unbudgeted agency resources and most staff work unpaid hours, trying to reduce staffing levels would be virtually impossible.
So whilst our primary goal is to save time there have been significant improvements in other board level key performance indicators. ESNEFT have enjoyed a reduction in agency staff spend, savings in print and paper costs, increased clinic utilisation, reduction in outpatient DNAs and faster processing of administration tasks across a range of automated processes.
Interestingly I have seen organisations whose primary strategic aim is to identify cash releasing benefits and reduce staffing levels. For these organisations staff engagement is virtually impossible and the depth and range of automation opportunities are stifled. I believe that setting the correct culture for AI is of paramount importance in any organisation. Be upfront and honest with your workforce, be open and transparent and solicit ideas and feedback at all levels of the organisation.
Robots are our friends.