My Automation Week #15 - Covid Reflections
Updated: May 29
The lockdown period has been insane and has seen a massive push to deploy processes faster than ever to support our response to COVID-19. The attention has not just been within my Trust. Collaborating with NEL Healthcare Consulting, Accenture, NHSX, NHS Digital, NHS England and Blue Prism Cloud has seen automation operate on a national scale delivering significant help and support to Social Care organisations. This blog post will highlight our achievements and to announce several new processes that will be going live shortly.
NHSmail for Social Care
In collaboration with Accenture and NHS Digital, I wrote a bot to receive application forms from Social Care via email, validate the information, manage all the communications and write a configuration file for overnight processing through the NHSmail national team. A single bot is dedicated to this task and runs 24x7.
A massive 7033 care homes have been successfully processed. Including those incorrect applications that needed to be analysed and returned to the sender, 693 hours (18 working weeks) of admin time was saved.
Post-go-live, a lot of time was spent applying bot logic to cleanse and fix supplied data to reduce the rejection rate.
Click here to read my previous blog https://www.somethingincredible.co.uk/post/news-social-care-nhs-mail-access-requests-robot-completed
Allocate Health Roster into Power BI
ESNEFT's incredible Business Informatics Team created a Power BI app for reporting staff attendance across clinical areas. The challenge for the bots was to extract a series of data files on an hourly basis from Allocate's Health Roster system for ingestion into Power BI. Unfortunately, the Health Roster uses outdated Adobe Flash and so a technique called Surface Automation was required. Although working great, the application regularly experiences disconnections and report creation errors which force me to run the bot every 15mins to ensure I can meet an hourly SLA. A human would never manage this process, but if it were, it would consume around 36 hours per month!
Click here to read my previous blog https://www.somethingincredible.co.uk/post/news-allocate-uk-healthroster-and-power-bi-robot-launched-covid19
Managing COVID Pathology Results
A bot was created to manage the incoming Covid pathology results. This solution is in two phases. The first phase receives incoming results and prints them out for local pathology staff to handle. The second phase will analyse the incoming emails and send them down different routes depending on whether the results are positive or negative. This process will go-live shortly after a few technology configurations are complete.
Batch Tracing on PAS (Death Notifications)
The System C Medway PAS used in Colchester is not spine enabled and so a daily process is executed manually to batch trace for any deceased patients in the community. With an increased mortality with COVID, it is advantageous to batch trace more frequently, currency once per day, and so an automated process has been created which aims to go-live next week.
Every 30mins, a file will be downloaded from Medway PAS and submitted to the national batch tracing service. Once confirmation has been received via email that an output file is ready for collection, the bot will collect the file from the national service and upload the data into Medway PAS reconciling selected patient records.
Social Care Supermarket Delivery Slots
To support a joint initiative between NHSX, NHS Digital and the CQC, shopping offers and food delivery voucher codes are being distributed to social care organisations using bots. A trial run last week issued 78,309 codes. The challenge is to throttle emails to avoid adversely impacting NHSmail servers and the use Blue Prism queues to handle 200K+ items. Codes and allocated, emails written and sent within just a few seconds. Some adjustments were made to the distribution logic this weekend ready for next week.
Click here to read my previous blog https://www.somethingincredible.co.uk/post/news-supermarket-food-delivery-vouchers-robot-for-care-homes-launched-covid19
Electronic Referrals (ASIs)
Occasionally referrals received via E-Referral Service (ERS) cannot be booked directly into our Medway PAS, e.g. if there is no capacity within the desired service. These referrals are sent to an Appointment Slot Issue (ASI) queue within ERS and manually completed. A member of the Outpatients team will work through the ASI lists within ERS opening each referral and downloading the relevant Clinical Information. This information will then be uploaded into the patients Evolve record manually. Once the referral has been added to Evolve the referral needs to be manually added to the patients Medway record using information taken from the original ERS referral. Once this referral has been added, the patient’s referral appointment can be booked manually. The plan is for a bot to manage the worklists on ERS, upload the referral to Evolve and notify the Outpatients Team that the appointment is ready for booking. Our analysis indicates an average monthly volume of 2650 transactions per month, offering a potential time matters saving of 410 hours per month.
COVID Recovering Plans
I am often asked how bots can help the NHS with our recovery plans, and my current thinking is that automation of existing BAU processes but in significantly higher volumes is what is needed. The good news is that any short-term development of automation should be useful once recovery is complete. Stay safe until next time.
If anyone needs any help, advice or assistance, please feel free to reach out to me.