Since the COVID-19 outbreak, hospitals, clinics and first responders have been dealing with rapidly increasing patient volumes—a situation exacerbated by a critical shortage of medical devices, drugs, protective personal equipment (PPE) and personnel. As the pandemic continues to spread, it is compelling providers to turn to digital innovations to rapidly respond and adapt to the unprecedented needs of the crisis.
Faced with mounting pressure on its capacity, a Swedish hospital was looking for ways to optimize efficiency, reduce the spread of COVID-19 and improve the safety of everyone at the hospital, including high-risk groups and its own staff. The hospital turned to CGI, a long-time partner in its digitization journey, to help quickly identify and implement solutions to respond to its immediate needs and help rebound and reinvent in the long term.
Turning challenges into opportunities
Studies have shown that two-thirds of a Swedish healthcare worker’s time is spent performing administrative tasks, leaving one-third to focus on patient care. Now more than ever, there is an urgent need to turn this equation around.
Over the past several years, CGI has been working with the hospital on a number of robotic process automation (RPA) initiatives that have freed-up between 2-3 thousand hours of the staff’s time every year. This has enabled the hospital to provide a higher quality of care and create a better working environment for its employees. With capacity stretched further due to the pandemic, it is critical to identify more opportunities for process efficiencies without any compromise in quality, security, privacy and compliance.
Boosting the line of defense against COVID-19
Having worked with the hospital for a number of years, CGI experts already had a deep understanding of its processes and systems. By adopting an agile way of working with the hospital’s team, CGI experts rapidly identified three COVID-19-specific RPA processes and accelerated the project time from concept to development to just 2-3 weeks. The solutions have been developed in accordance with privacy and security principles and regulatory compliance requirements for health data and are continuously evaluated by CGI and the client’s experts to ensure the highest level of security of patient and staff information. These processes include:
- Providing visitors with COVID-19 information through SMS before a scheduled appointment: Information, including the time of the visit and department, is collected from various hospital databases and a standardized text message is sent to each patient with relevant COVID-19-related information. This solution is intended to reduce the number of non-critical visits and lower the risk of COVID-19 by informing people with respiratory symptoms to avoid visiting the hospital. In addition, it helps to manage patient cancellations ahead of time, so that the allotted time can be used by healthcare staff to prioritize patients with urgent needs.
- Communicating COVID-19 test results: The process collects information from several databases on COVID-19 lab tests, and notifies various stakeholders of the results via text message, e-mail, pager or a digital enhanced cordless telecommunications (DECT) message. Automating this process streamlines the management of COVID-19 test results and helps to increase the safety of everyone in the hospital.
- Timely contact tracing of patients and healthcare staff: Contact tracing is critical to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help authorities make informed decisions. By collecting information about COVID-19 cases from several internal systems, the solution identifies exposed healthcare personnel and support staff, patients and at-risk departments. It enables a more streamlined infection tracking process and lowers the risk of exposure.
These solutions will reduce end-to-end processing time by 95%, and free up 2,000 hours of the hospital staffs’ time over six months, enabling them to focus on more value-creating tasks and interactions with patients.
Reinventing processes to support a “new normal”
In the coming weeks, the hospital and CGI will continue to work on additional RPA projects that focus on reducing the administrative work of healthcare staff so they can focus more on patient care. The processes under evaluation include:
- Publishing lab test results to various systems and departments
- Updating the quality register
- Streamlining video meeting registrations
- Simplifying staff sick leave request processes
- Managing referrals of healthcare staff tested for COVID-19
Through our RPA automations, CGI is helping the Swedish hospital respond quickly to the immediate needs of the crisis, while also preparing for a post-pandemic future where its employees can focus on higher-value work.