RPA was first seen around 4 years ago and has been quickly utilised by banks, financial services and other businesses.
Now local government and the NHS have launched tests using the technology.
Increasing productivity and releasing scarce clinical capacity is a strategic imperative, says Mike Donnellan, UK executive BPS leader at DXC Technology.
“Without fundamental performance improvement, we will not be able to build enough hospitals and hire enough clinicians to meet the accelerating demand on NHS resources. Automating non-clinical workload is one of the keys to freeing up the time of doctors and nurses to enable them to treat more patients, automating tasks such as solving bed blocking, processing patient data and the booking of appointments.”
For the NHS, creating a blended digital workforce in combination with highly trained clinical professionals is fundamental to its ability to meet rising demand.
Donnellan adds: “Last year, there were 23 million attendances at A&E, up 23.5% in a decade. If we do nothing to address the productivity gap, spending on the NHS would need to consume more than 50% of total government expenditure.” According to Donnellan, “more than 20 NHS trusts have RPA deployed in a growing number of areas ranging from emergency admissions, patient record management, child immunisation, data messaging, patient discharging and outpatient administration. The pace of change has been gradual so far, but we are now seeing this accelerate.”
RPA is transforming working practices.
What are the benefits of using these bots?
One council, North Tyneside, has hired an army of robots to speed up benefit claims.
The system is helping North Tynesiders fill in forms while autonomously checking the applicants for fraud and processing their information quicker.
The council is using RPA to create an “intelligent” application, where a bot leads customers through the form and helps them to fill it in. A new type of fraud check uses algorithms to assess the fraud risk of an applicant. And because the information is captured digitally rather than written by hand, it could be automatically entered into the IT system, freeing up staff to interact with users rather than spending their time entering data.
Martin Ruane, programme director at Engie, the company that has helped implement the RPA project, says:
“It was difficult for customers to get it right the first time and to provide all the correct proof.” He says it often took more than five contacts between the claimant and council office before the forms were completed. Using RPA has made the whole process much easier. “When it went live, we were starting to process all claims within the first day we received them,” he says. “We didn’t enact any job cuts, the system created capacity and we were able to direct staff to higher-value work.”
According to Engie,
This is the first project of its kind for a local authority in the UK. It has led to a 50% reduction in time spent entering data, sped up the resolution of claims and reduced time taken to process new claims by 45%. According to Engie.
They believe RPA could revolutionise working across the public sector, with 20% of office-based processes ripe for the new system.
HMRC have also taken up the RPA system.