In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers continue to be challenged by heavy workloads and competing demands. Healthcare organisations are constantly seeking innovative ways to ensure that our workforce is well-prepared to cope with the ever-changing nature of the industry and to provide quality care even in the face of manpower constraints.

At SingHealth, we harness technology to alleviate administrative workload challenges as part of our bid to future-proof our workforce, allowing our people to make better use of their time to elevate patient care.

Enter Robotic Process Automation (RPA), a digital solution that relieves workers from manual, repetitive, and rule-based tasks. By automating these tasks, staff can allocate their time to activities that value add.

RPA works by using robots that are programmed to replicate various human actions, integrating with different applications and software systems. Some of the tasks that RPA robots can perform are integration, file and date manipulation, data extraction and transaction processing.

Over at SingHealth Finance, a team led by Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) staff, embraced the use of Blue Prism, an enterprise RPA solution, for payment posting, billing and claims processing. With the usage of RPA, SingHealth's Business Office has automated processes such as MediSave claims at SGH, KKH, Changi General Hospital (CGH), SengKang General Hospital (SKH), National Health Centre Singapore (NHCS) and SingHealth Community Hospitals (SCH).

Aligning service and workforce plans through staff development

In preparation for the roll-out of RPA, SingHealth's Business Office worked with stakeholders like Blue Prism and Synapxe to better understand the needs of staff and the competencies required to support the adoption of RPA.

Over a span of 18 months, workshops, discussion meetings, user acceptance testing, on-the-job training and development activities were carried out to ensure staff understand how to incorporate RPA into their work processes.

"Employing RPA optimises the submission process, especially when managing substantial adjustments," shared Ms Lye Foon Mei, Senior Patient Service Associate Executive, Business Office, KKH. "As the time required for manual submissions is minimised, it allows me to allocate my attention to other responsibilities."

Reducing workload and increasing job satisfaction

The benefits of RPA implementation in SingHealth's Business Office were apparent, with an estimated 4300 work hours saved per year. It also helped to decrease stress levels and increase job satisfaction for staff, who now have more time to focus on more fulfilling and value-adding work, promoting their personal development and growth.

"Monitoring submission deadlines and determining submission types used to demand our constant attention. While some aspects still require manual intervention, 90% of the workload has been lifted from our team. With the saved time, we can focus on urgent tasks and refining the bot to achieve complete process automation," said Ms Khng Li Juan, Business Office Executive, Patient Financial Services, SGH.

Opening doors for future improvements to work processes

"Staff were initially sceptical on how RPA could help them. Overtime, they started to appreciate that RPA has helped to cut down on the time spent toggling between two billing systems to extract, for example, MediSave Maternity Package claims amount accurately," added Shirley Loh, Assistant Manager, Patient Financial Services, SGH.

Moving forward, there are plans to roll out RPA projects to more SingHealth institutions, including National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS), Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) and SingHealth Polyclinics (SHP), enabling these institutions to benefit from automation capabilities. The adoption of RPA in SingHealth is one of the many ways we continue to seek improvements to our daily operations, for the betterment of both patient and staff experience.

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