The Christmas holidays are an excellent time to catch up on the workload, get some quiet time to concentrate and take advantage of no interruptions or last-minute demands on my time. With the last 12 months so frantic I had the opportunity to restructure the production environment, delete some redundant processes and objects and ensure live and development settings were fully synced.
My first HR process (ECF Chasers - featured in a previous process deep dive blog) was moved into production and is running well. Using a best practice approach to automation such as environment variables and passing data items between pages helped to make the bot code sharable and portable. The Christmas period allowed me to write technical documentation and record some video support guides. Incredibly dull to do but essential to share with my automation team colleagues.
My other HR process was started on Christmas Day and written, tested and put into production last week. In summary, this automation will trigger by the closing of a job advert on our Trac vacancy management system. The bot will access NHS jobs (if an external vacancy), download any applications and upload these in Trac. The bot will then manage all the messaging activity to candidates and the recruiting manager before moving the vacancy to the next stage.
The best way to deliver automation at pace is to take an end to end process and split it into smaller, manageable chunks. This is precisely the approach for this HR process. It was delivered in under two weeks. A human can pass workflow to a bot and vice versa, seamlessly.
The challenge with this automation is development could only be done in the live environment as I needed real job applications to process. Vacancies tend to close just after midnight, and so I had to work overnight sessions to achieve this outcome.
This automation offers a 'cookie-cutter' solution to so many Trusts who I am sure will work in the same way.
This automation and all the necessary technical and process documents will be loaded onto the NHS Marketplace in a few weeks.
With my team this week, I was able to see working prototypes of two upcoming processes.
Our Maternity Self-Referral process will give patients the ability to self-refer via our patient portal and for a bot to register the patient, book their appointment and send the appointment letter back to the patient. This automation will also be the first to send appointment letters in the patient's primary language using Blue Prism Cloud and Microsoft's translation cognitive tools.
For patients discussed in a cancer MDT session, the bot will access the Somerset Cancer Registry, send the patient's GP an email summary via NHS Mail and upload the outcome to the patient's electronic record in Kainos Evolve.
At the start of the week, I had the pleasure of visiting NHSX and presenting my work in a Show and Tell session. I am hoping that intelligent automation will start to be promoted by NHSX as a technology that can help the NHS drive efficiency and free up time for staff to spend more time with patients. Scaling automation across the NHS can only be done by collaborating and sharing solutions. I saw examples just this week of Trust's being dazzled by vendor hype without any awareness or understanding of what I have done and a large number of NHS organisations who are starting to work together.
Do we want to end up with another situation where Trusts all have a different PAS, PACS, EPR etc? it is a waste of taxpayers money and valuable resources that can be used to support other parts of the NHS.
Over the week, I spoke to five organisations who are considering automation and can see the value in working together and taking advantage of the work I have already done. I will be supporting them by hosting workshops to underpin business cases that offer value for money and where the return on investment can be delivered quickly.
Next week I will be hosting some online sessions.
Jan 14th @ 4pm - Blue Prism Cafe
Jan 15th @ 2pm - Automation in HR
email: email@example.com for an invitation
If anyone needs any help, advice or assistance, please feel free to reach out to me.