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Blue Prism digital robots collaborate with the NHS to reduce cancer backlog

Blue Prism digital robots collaborate with the NHS to reduce cancer backlog

HealthcareTop StoriesUnited Kingdom

Blue Prism, a global pioneer and market leader in intelligent automation, has announced a successful collaboration with NHS Trusts in applying intelligent automation to reduce its cancer care backlog.

While creating capacity for COVID-19 patients was critical to deal with the initial outbreak, this shift in focus has slowed down timely diagnosis and treatment of cancer across the UK and created a backlog that could take decades to mitigate. Blue Prism partnered closely with NHS Trusts to implement digital robots and innovative solutions for better cancer treatment.

According to Cancer Research UK, 367,000 new cancer cases occur in the UK every year. Addressing issues related to the pandemic has meant that routine screenings, urgent referrals and treatments were delayed, leading to a backlog of patients requiring care. As a result, urgent cancer referrals are down 60% since the pandemic started.

With patients attending hospitals later because of COVID-19, it’s more critical than ever to ensure a timely diagnosis and every day on the cancer pathway matters. To do that, NHS Trusts require a more efficient way to manage data and audit key milestones within the various cancer pathways. A digital workforce is a unifying agent to deliver these outcomes. Blue Prism’s scalable pool of AI-powered digital robots is designed to easily interoperate with all Electronic Patient Record systems and Cancer Registers. This integration supports 24/7 productivity at robot speed.

Blue Prism’s digital robots significantly reduce the time between test results and actions by connecting the disparate systems. This involves tracking instant diagnostic results with specific hospital departments to cut waiting times or utilising Machine Learning and AI capabilities to review MRI scans faster.

Before the pandemic, patients showing any potentially cancerous symptoms were targeted for a specialist consultation within two weeks of an urgent general practitioner referral. Typically, after a diagnosis treatment would begin within 62 days from the original referral. But in the current climate, these cancer pathways designed to catch the disease early before it advances have been severely challenged.

Ways in which NHS Trusts leverage Blue Prism’s technology

  • Expediting referral pathways to ensure that cases are seen as quickly as possible – potentially cutting days off the initial referral time.
  • Auditing referral pathways to ensure key milestones in treatment are met.
  • Evaluating risk by monitoring results and diagnostics to progress patients on to the next treatment milestone as effectively as possible.
  • Validating data on waiting lists and knowing who to prioritise.

“As services work through the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHS faces a backlog of cancer care that will impact on the national and local ambitions of earlier diagnosis and improved outcomes,” said Sheron Robson, Programme Manager at the Northern Cancer Alliance. “By leveraging a digital workforce where every day matters on a cancer pathway, Trusts can not only improve productivity by releasing thousands of hours of manual processing but can support earlier diagnosis and mitigate clinical risk.”

“We’re proud to partner with NHS Trusts on this critical task of eliminating the cancer backlog in the UK,” said Patrick Shephard, Head of Public Sector at Blue Prism. “With a digital workforce, healthcare providers are not only speeding up cancer diagnostics, but improving accuracy and creating new opportunities for clinicians to deliver even higher levels of care. We look forward to continuing to tackle this crucial issue while showcasing the best that a digital workforce paired with human collaboration has to offer.”

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