- To get patients from referral to cancer treatment as soon as possible, within 62 days or less in line with national guidance, to improve outcomes.
- Reducing the time patients on a cancer pathway are waiting for a diagnosis.
The technical solution:
- Open-source RPA software called AutoHotKey, a free-of-charge Microsoft tool.
- Initial development by computer science students on placement from local University.
- RPA solutions, including the open-source scripting RPA program called AutoHotKey.
- Using open-source and modular solutions, so that learnings can be freely shared across healthcare settings.
Processes automated using RPA:
- Referrals auto-retrieved into the department from eRS
- Securely alerting clinicians of investigation results using natural language processing
- Booking patients into next available lung cancer clinic
- Ordering investigations during MDT discussions; uploading data to national audit sites.
- Shorten the lung cancer pathway so patients receive treatment faster, resulting in improved prognosis and potentially better health outcomes.
- Reduce breeches of referral-to-treat cancer target.
- Reduce clinical administrative burden to increase patient-facing time available for clinical cancer staff.
- Improve patient safety by reducing near misses from elimination of human error in the many administrative processes.
- Improve patient experience by using automated processes to send, for example, explanatory videos for procedures and other patient information.
- Reduce patient coordinator’s administrative workload enabling higher value tasks including patient management.
- Potential cost reduction through natural attrition of reduced workload on patient coordinator role.
- Can be adapted to other cancer pathways.
Other points to note:
- This case study is at ‘proof of concept’ stage.
- Project funded by Gloucestershire CCG, the Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon & Gloucestershire Cancer Alliance, with support from University of Gloucestershire.
- Identification of longer-term funding actively in progress to enable deployment, development and maintenance.
- Open-source refers to ‘open code’ not open data. Code stored on GitHub and is freely shared. No patient confidential information is ever placed in the public domain.
- Reference for open-source software used elsewhere in the NHS.
Contact for further information:
- Dr Mark A. Bailey, Speciality Doctor in Speciality Respiratory Medicine and Clinical Informatician, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
This case study is one in a series exploring the use of RPA in various NHS settings. It forms part of a guide produced by the West of England AHSN sharing our learning around RPA.
Read the full guide online here or download the guide as a PDF here.