NHS England, in partnership with Atos, created the first-ever national guidance for NHS organizations to plan, implement and sustain RPA.
The guidance covers:
- A how-to guide to support effective and safe adoption of RPA in healthcare
- Good practices, lessons learned, key safety considerations and standards
- The balance of expert support with local empowerment to achieve clinical, operational and financial objectives.
How to accelerate safe RPA adoption
Key to the remit of NHS England is driving the digital transformation of the NHS and social care. Its Digital Productivity Team is responsible for providing strategy, guidance and support for NHS adoption of RPA.
RPA has an important role to play in building a more efficient healthcare system through rapid digital transformation. Automating mundane and repetitive administrative tasks frees up valuable staff time – both clinical and non-clinical – to focus on higher-value activities and time with patients.
RPA has gained traction, particularly since the pandemic. Clearing the backlog while looking after the wellbeing of NHS staff is a key focus. Patient safety is paramount, so regulations and principles for patient safety must be built in.
In 2022, with varying degrees of RPA maturity across the NHS, the challenge was how best to educate and inform NHS stakeholders to help support and accelerate the safe and secure delivery of RPA capability. The ambition was to provide guidance on areas such as required due diligence, governance, skillsets, processes for discovery, timelines, and regulatory and digital principles as a blueprint that could be flexed and applied by every organization.
Inspiring and empowering the RPA journey
A small multi-disciplinary Atos team was engaged to work in partnership with NHS England to develop a comprehensive national guidance and assurance checklist for the safe adoption of RPA across the health and care sectors.
Using the proven Atos methodology, already applied to developing the NHS Blueprint for Digitally Advanced Hospitals, the joint team collaborated to create the new guidance in 10 weeks. This drew extensively on:
- Close engagement with NHS stakeholders including acute and social care providers, industry experts and NHS RPA partners
- Global multi-sector RPA experience and partner ecosystem provided by Atos
- Expert horizon-scanning and research to benchmark global best practices in healthcare and other industries
- Peer review by the Atos Expert Community, including health and life sciences, public sector and automation experts.
The team knew that guidance can only be useful if it is used.
Key to their approach was ensuring that guidance is pragmatic and practical, with keen insight into its users and the NHS context.
Published and easily navigable online, the guidance includes policies, hints and tips, standards, and blueprints for use and procurement of RPA by the NHS to deliver measurable benefits. See the guidance here.
Also available is a video series created by the team, featuring NHS organizations that have successfully developed RPA capabilities sharing examples and experiences.
People-focused transformation improves NHS efficiency
The guidance informs the safe and effective adoption of automation across the health and care sector, minimizing variation of governance, improving confidence in RPA and reducing the risk of unregulated solutions.
By augmenting the skills and experience of staff, RPA plays a key role in freeing up capacity and significantly improving productivity and efficiency in the NHS and social care. Examples include:
- Front office — patient administration, appointment scheduling
- Middle office — operational and service management, report generation and distribution
- Back office — corporate functions like HR, finance and claims administration.
The benefits of RPA, as evidenced in the guidance, include cost reduction, auditability, productivity, employee satisfaction, speed, reliability, flexibility, light touch and reduced attrition.
To support sustainable adoption and ensure that guidance evolves in line with the NHS landscape, the team’s methodology includes processes for ongoing maintenance and evolution by NHS England Transformation Directorate.
Accelerating your RPA journey
Wherever you are on your automation journey, Atos experts can help you maximize the benefits of automation. Our extensive healthcare experience means we understand your processes, so you’re not starting from scratch. We take a product-agnostic approach, working in partnership to achieve an optimized solution that meets your objectives in terms of cost, experience and outcomes for patients and staff.