Appointment booking is our most intensive, transactional service. And we’ve been able to bring SS&C Blue Prism into that service. Our philosophy is, if we can bring intelligent automation into appointment bookings, we can bring it in anywhere across the business.”Marc Hadwin Head of Digital Services
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) strives to be “a great place to be cared for; a great place to work.” The Trust serves 350,000 people across 1,000 square miles in northwest England. And they aim to provide the highest standards of compassionate care. High-quality healthcare starts with scheduling an appointment, which can be a challenge for staff and patients due to high volumes. Always looking to improve their patients’ experiences, the Trust turned to SS&C Blue Prism® Cloud to optimize scheduling.
There’s no downtime at the Trust’s three hospitals and four community healthcare facilities. Before the pandemic, they had roughly 440,000 outpatient appointments each year. During the pandemic, demand for appointments skyrocketed, which led to a backlog of appointment requests at the hospitals. Cancellations by patients and clinicians were frequent too. UHMBT needed to squeeze 20 percent more patients into an already full schedule to meet the backlog. Adding to the challenge was that it took 15 minutes to book each appointment — and the Trust had 100,000 in the queue. The hospital admin staff worked diligently to contact patients on the waiting list, schedule them to see a clinician, and send a follow-up email; but it was hardly making a dent.
UHMBT’s automation team was brought in to help the admin staff clear the backlog. They developed a simple desktop app that sends a text to each patient on the waiting list and points them to an online booking form. Once the patient fills out the form, intelligent automation tools like SS&C Blue Prism digital workers pick up the booking request, enter it into the patient administration system, and send a confirmation email, all without intervention from staff.
Incomplete records are escalated to staff who quickly call the patient, gather the information, and use the online booking form. Once entered, the digital workers take over. What used to take 15 minutes is now completed in four minutes (and it would be faster if the internal Electronic Patient Record System could process the data more quickly).
Patients are happy with the new service’s ease and have given UHMBT positive feedback. Employees are happy, too. While digital workers complete bookings, administrative staff can do more qualitative work. And clinicians find that their schedules are booked every day because as patients cancel at the last minute, digital workers offer it to a patient on the waiting list.
Now, UHMBT has 1200–1300 appointments going through the system each day. They’ve returned almost 30,000 hours to administrative staff and over 6,000 hours to clinicians.
The Trust agrees that SS&C Blue Prism Cloud has enabled them to achieve their dual objectives of providing excellent customer service and unburdening staff from processes that don’t add value to their role.
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