The benefits of automation within the NHS are well documented, and with more than a third of all foundation trusts using Blue Prism, you don't need to look far to discover a plethora of use cases demonstrating the transformative power of digital workers.
That being said, automation isn't a silver bullet to solve all of the NHS' challenges, and of course comes with its own unique set of considerations. To understand these in more detail, we set out to survey 400 healthcare leaders from across the world to understand how they're using automation, what their key challenges are, and what the key benefits have been. Here are the results.
It won't come as a surprise to learn that the headline challenge to providing exemplary patient experiences was named as legacy systems and infrastructure. More than 65% of C-suite respondents reported that the need for staff to plug systems gaps resulted in slow processes, burnt out staff, and reduced time with patients: all of which compound to reduce overall patient experience.
These findings coincide with 35% of C-Suite respondents reporting that maximising financial sustainability is a number one priority for the next 12 months. It's no secret that inefficient and manual processes cost organisations more than just time, with high volumes of manual work and clunky systems hiking up operating costs and, in some cases, reducing output.
But it's not all doom and gloom. Automation offers healthcare organisations a solution to all of these challenges, which were well documented by our survey respondents.
In the UK, "Frees up time for patient-facing care" and "reduces manual work" were pinned as the two headline benefits of automation, demonstrating huge potential to improve patient experience and meet their financial goals. And you wouldn't be going-it alone. More than 74% of respondents reported moderate or heavy use of automation, with a majority citing that they know of or are making plans to scale their automation deployments.
So what's the hold up?
When surveyed, we found that the C-Suite feared that cultural adoption was the biggest roadblock to implementing automation technologies, suggesting that fear or animosity towards automation was still a considerable concern.
That compares to data from surveyed directors and managers, suggesting that not only is more automation expected among their teams, but welcomed as part of the requirement to do more for their patients with less.
When asked what they'd do if more of their day-to-day tasks were automated, the results were clear: more automation means more value for the organisation and patients. A total of 58% of respondents listed using data to uncover problems as the top priority, followed by more face-to-face time with patients and using data to understand the bigger picture.
It's clear that the benefits of automation are recognised by healthcare leaders across the world, and further automation has the potential to release valuable staff time to focus more on patient engagement and business optimisation.
So, how can healthcare leaders scale the benefits of automation for their patients and teams, without putting their existing workforces on edge?
We asked a handful of our healthcare clients how they successfully blended their digital and human teams.
Here are their top tips:
- Create an internal COE that is made up of job titles from across the whole organisation
- Implement a robotic operating model that enables you to set goals, align priorities and execute new processes efficiently
- Find fun ways to share your success internally: one of our clients sends out digital worker "birth" announcements, for example
- Personalise your digital workers: naming your digital workers can make them feel more like part of the team. Some of our clients even hold naming competitions
- Collaborate: Success stories from other organisations can help to make your teams feel reassured about the journey ahead. We'd be happy to put you in touch with clients already reaping the benefits. Just talk to your account manager or get in touch.
For further insights into these statistics and automation use cases, download our full report here.