How a ‘stakeholder-first’ AI implementation gave doctors more time for patients
With an increasing demand for NHS services as the population ages, it’s important that frontline staff such as doctors and nurses have as much time with patients as possible. That’s easier said than done, however – a lot of time is spent on mundane, repetitive, administrative tasks.
As a result, NHS trusts are turning to innovative, technology-driven ways to get around the restrictions and deliver more value to patients. East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), for example, has delivered almost £2.1m a year in cost savings and 60 weeks of staff time through its artificial intelligence (AI) and automation project – and that’s just in one hospital.
Darren Atkins, chief technology officer for AI and automation for the trust, oversaw the project as a way to save time by removing certain tasks from human workers and onto AI. The principle measure of success, he says, was time saved. “If we could free up time for our corporate and clinical staff to spend more time with our patients, that’s got to be a good thing to do. In the first month alone, we released about 300 hours. About 14 months later, we’re doing 4,500/5,000 hours a month. So you can see how we’re starting to receive some really good benefits.”
Atkins and his small but growing team continue to identify processes to help doctors, nurses and other frontline staff at ESNEFT spend more time with patients. “I’m very fortunate to work with a board that’s very forward-thinking,” he says. “They also understand this technology has more benefits it can bring to the trust. In many ways, it was a calculated leap of faith, but because the investment isn’t large sums of money it was almost worth the gamble.”
Thankfully, that gamble has paid off, largely due to Atkins’ ‘stakeholder first’ approach to implementation. “The first priority was always to create that culture of it being seen and used as a supportive technology to help our staff. I think that’s why it’s been so successful.”
You can read more about how Atkins implemented AI for stakeholder benefits here (🔒).
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