Using technology to free up time in primary care

We recently asked you to share your stories of how your teams have been working together with others across BSW since we came together as an ICB in July 2022.

We’ve received some great examples and this month, we hear from BSW ICB Digital Project Manager Karolina Fulluck about a new project to automate some simple tasks for our primary care teams and free up their time to better help patients.

Karolina is part of a project group working with doctors’ surgeries to automate the process around filing test results for cholesterol level checks, bowel screening and lipids. Following a successful trial at a surgery in BaNES, the automation tool offer has been extended to more practices across BSW.

What is the project looking to achieve and how is it progressing?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a technology that uses automation to mimic tasks of human workers, such as extracting data, filling in forms and moving files. It involves the use of software robots or “bots” to mimic human interactions with digital systems and applications. The RPA project in BSW is currently focusing on automating the processes that staff who work at GP surgeries carry out when dealing with some test results including bowel screening and cholesterol and lipid levels. The project is currently live in two practices across BSW. The implementation of RPA in practices and the ICB has the potential to provide significant benefits, including increased efficiency, improved accuracy as well as standardising processes.

Who has been involved in the project?

The project team involves staff from across BSW Together ICS. The RPA team from Great Western Hospital provides the technical development, Dr James Harrop of St Michael’s surgery in Bath is the Clinical Lead and Dr Shan Mantri is the Clinical Safety Officer. Bryan Taylor, Karolina Fulluck and Jason Young from BSW ICB complete the team.

What have you learned from working jointly with colleagues from different organisations?

That there is a wide variety of skills and expertise across the ICS that can be utilised rather than repeating the same processes in individual organisations. Also, that partnership working on the RPA project presents an opportunity to develop a system-wide service and expertise rather than compete over the same people and resource.

What are the next steps?

The RPA project is currently funded until March 2024 so the team is pulling together a business case to demonstrate the value the technology offers to general practice in the hope to be able to roll it out to more practices. Lots of organisations in BSW and across the NHS use RPA so this provides an opportunity to work together on this time saving and innovative technology.