In the Process Deep Dive series, I will share an insight into some of our developments. I will provide a high level overview, explore snippets of code, discuss challenges and solutions, share videos and discuss the benefits achieved. The processes, objects and documentation shared in these posts are available to download from the NHS Marketplace hosted by Thoughtonomy.
East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust's (ESNEFT) first clinical process facilitated the processing of incoming GP referrals from the National NHS Electronic Referral System (ERS) into our Kainos Evolve (cloud-based depository for all patient electronic records).
In Neurology, our pilot specialty, it would take around 20 minutes to process a single referral. This was valuable time that could have been spent answering the telephone to anxious patients, supporting the clinicians or undertaking more complex and challenging tasks.
The original process involved logging onto ERS via a physical smartcard many times throughout the day. Medical secretaries would look for incoming referrals in real-time, manually record key patient information, download 20 - 25 single page documents in various file formats, print them all, immediately scan these on a printer to get a single PDF file and manually upload the referral on Kainos Evolve.
Throughout the week, paper copies of the referral were passed to the clinician for review and grading. This process was time consuming, generated lots of paper and was an inefficient way of working. Unbudgeted agency staff would be hired each week to help cope with the volume of work.
We were bold in our approach by choosing such a critical process but success would show the potential of intelligent automation to make time matter, engage with our front-line staff and bring positive benefits to the patients we serve. More importantly it would allow me to share our work with every NHS organisation in the country.
So what happens now?
At a high level, our bots now actively monitor the Electronic Referral System in real-time. The moment a new referral appears on the screen, the bots will trigger and start the automation. The first stage involves collecting key data (for example, NHS number, URBN no, specialty, patient details). It is at this stage we are able to ensure the data is in the correct format for the remainder of the downstream process. Next, all the clinical attachments are downloaded, merged together into a single PDF file. The bot then accesses Kainos Evolve and the referral uploaded.
Below is a case study video which was recorded just a few weeks after our go-live....
Next blog... the smartcard challenge...