Bupa is successfully using technology to relieve pressures posed by the pandemic

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One of the UK’s leading care home providers is successfully using technology to relieve pressures posed by the pandemic.

Bupa Care Services has introduced a ‘digital team’ of robots to speed and streamline its processing of COVID-19 test results. Within seconds of a positive result, the robots send a notification to the individual’s care home and complete the required governance reporting.

The move has speeded up test results, removed the risk of human error and allowed individuals to swiftly isolate and limit possible transmission. It’s also reduced admin duties on staffing teams enabling them to focus on caring for residents. This has been particularly important when homes have had a reduced workforce due to staff shielding or isolating.

Since their introduction in December 2020 the robots have processed responses to over 160,000 individual COVID-19 tests. At its peak, this saved colleagues around 2,500 hours of admin – equivalent to 15-20 colleagues working full time.

Neil Barker, Finance Director for Bupa Care Services, explains: “We know the immense pressure that has been on our teams throughout the pandemic and have looked for ways to relieve this.

“The robots have had a huge impact. They have automated an admin-heavy process and freed up time for colleagues to care for residents, which is most needed.

“It’s also given us a really clear, accurate picture of case numbers, both on a local home and national level, allowing us to act quickly in keeping everyone safe.”         

The process was led by Bupa’s in-house robotics team, which worked closely with the company’s Care Services business, as well as intelligent automation specialist, Blue Prism.

The system was mobilised quickly and, following a short trial, was scaled up to respond to increasing test numbers.

Bupa currently operates over twenty virtual robots with five of these operating 24/7 to support the care homes business. Three monitor and triage thousands of incoming test results, before handing-off positive results to separate robots to send SMS notifications to staff and complete governance reporting.

Nigel Green, Head of Service Management for Bupa Global & UK leads Bupa’s robotic process automation practice and has overseen its increased use across the organisation.

He said: “We successfully use robotics across a number of areas across Bupa. Whilst it’s typically for things like Finance and admin processing, it’s been great for the team to see the difference they’re making to people on the front lines of care.

“It’s been a really collaborative process with colleagues working together across the business, from robotics and technology specialists through to the frontline teams in our care homes. I’m so pleased to see it having such a tangible impact.”

Bupa employs around 11,000 colleagues across more than 120 care homes and nine Richmond retirement villages.

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