Building RPA at Helsinki University Hospital (HUS): Discussion with Minna Pekkala, Head of Robotics

Finland’s largest Hospital District, HUS – The Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa – is a joint authority formed by 24 municipalities. Functioning as part of HUS, Helsinki University Hospital (HUH) is nationally responsible for treating severe and rare illnesses and ones calling for special expertise and technology. HUS hospitals employ over 24,000 professionals in 23 locations and received a total of 2,6 million patient visits in 2017.

 

Summary of webinar with Minna Pekkala, Head of Robotics at Helsinki University Hospital (HUS)

How are digital workers delivered at HUS?

“HUS’s digital workers are delivered as a service (by Digital Workforce). This means we don’t have to buy our own licenses or servers, manage or update hardware, or worry about scalability. We think that the cost of service is predictable, and believe this can help us be cost-effective. We use service delivered from Azure cloud and Blue Prism (Robotic Process Automation, RPA) technology. We had already tested the technology over 2 years ago when we had our Proof-of-Concept.”

How is Robotic Process Automation managed?

“Because we are a large organisation we wanted to make sure that the project management wouldn’t be split in different units. That is why our (RPA) management is centralised in our IT management. Our duty is to make implementation possible and offer RPA development across the organisation.”

“We hit ‘go’ 7-8 months ago. With RPA, we want to help our employees automate routine processes and allocate more time to actual patient care.”

How do you choose processes for automation? 

“When we choose potential processes to automate we put weight on cost savings: How much is the work going to cost and what is the actual return on investment?”

“We have also required that the workflow can be copied. This means that the same process can be run in several different units. And of course, in our operating environment we always think about patient safety and customer quality.”

What has been done so far?

“At the moment we have two different processes in production and four more will follow soon. All in all, we have identified more than 50 potential processes and already 13 of those are in building.”

“Examples of our pilot processes include:

1) RADU-referrals: These radiology request forms are currently working in two different units, but we have 30 locations where the process can be copied.

2) Virtual referrals: Our hospital gets over 300 000 referrals a year. RPA is in operation at 6 locations doing classification, transfer and handling of referrals. If you think about scalability, we have still 37 more units where we can help with receiving referrals and redirecting them to specialists (by expanding the automation). We can use Machine Learning to help classify referrals.”

What have you learned?

“It’s not possible to communicate too much – to deploy RPA you have to concentrate on change management! Few people really know what Robotic Process Automation is and it raises questions among employees and management. People may be afraid of replacement so you need to commit management. The message of why we use RPA must come from line managers. Change often happens slowly in large organisations. There many parties and actors and everyone has their own opinion. You also can’t forget IT – without IT you can’t bring technology to use.”

“Then processes you are going to automate: Who owns them, who knows them best, who can give permission for (RPA) production? Does the process need changes to be automated with RPA? “

“Finally, you have robots, the users. Robots need identity. They have user access, but the robots are not human individuals and in certain systems it may cause problems. Robots can’t learn new system features without their model of work being updated. RPA updates must be synchronised with system changes.”

“RPA is not the final step. You must be ready to think about other options and possibilities as well. For example, RPA with Machine Learning can be very productive.”

Do you have a steering group for RPA?

“We do have a steering group. We have a head doctor who is responsible for clinical processes, a person from our administrative unit and two managers from IT management. We decide priorities, cost locations and project funding.”

“In my opinion, it is important that we have people involved from different sides of our organisation because we need to consider the benefits of the whole hospital.”

What expertise do u need to operate robotics in large scale?

“We buy software as a service (from Digital Workforce) and we do have a Centre of Excellence, but at the moment its only me. In the future, I would like us to have a project manager and perhaps a technical architect is also needed.”

What is your target for next year? How many processes will you automate?

“At least 50. But we would like closer to 100. Cost efficiency grows with scaling up.”

What do you think are the greatest obstacles when starting with RPA?

“It’s a lot of work to build the service up, I would recommend having a project manager for running tasks. In general, it’s good to have more hands and heads put together.”

 

Want to learn more? Listen to the complete webinar recording here

 

The Finnish Tax Administration selects Digital Workforce as its software robotics supplier

Digital Workforce has signed a service agreement with the Finnish Tax Administration to provide the organization with an extensive RPA-platform (Robotic Process Automation). The acquisition covers the licensing and delivery of software robots, solution training, support, maintenance and expert services. The RPA-platform is utilized across the entire Tax Administration.

The use of software robotics to automate the Tax Administration’s work processes has been investigated and tested since 2015. Through these investigations, the Tax Administration has identified RPA business benefits that include: reduction of costs and errors, more harmonized operations, inter-system integrations and increased process speed. All the identified benefits support the Tax administration’s strategic goals and translate into improvements in customer service.

As an Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) service provider, Digital Workforce has the flexibility to complement the capabilities of its software robots by extending its services – according to its customers’ needs – to cover other intelligent technologies.

Business drivers to implement Intelligent Process Automation

Under unprecedented pace of technological development and increasing pressure of competitors from across the globe, businesses’ digitalization of some degree is inevitable. Companies are altering their offerings, processes as well as operations to keep up with the changing environment and grow their business further. As with every investment, the decision to devote company’s resources into process automation and digitalization must add value to the business. What are the most relevant aspects and general drivers of such business decisions, related to intelligent process automation?

OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE

Companies strive to maximize revenues and minimize costs, and every investment into new equipment should facilitate either decrease in costs or increase in revenues, leading to increased efficiency of a firm’s resources. Thus, looking at the drivers from the perspective of business’s operations, decrease in cost is doubtlessly one of the key motivators when implementing intelligent process automation.

Process automation allows people and companies to focus on their most valuable work such as creative thinking and product crafting, customer service and leadership. When robots perform an organization’s supportive activities reliably and seamlessly, its human workers are enabled to do the work that is most valuable to the organization. It’s easy to consider how this change might improve both a customer’s service experience and a worker’s mood when they no longer have to be distracted by things such as registering data in various systems, searching it up and interpreting it whilst trying to serve their customer. Simply put, companies can benefit from a more sellable higher quality service/product without an increase in costs.

On the other hand, employing a secure and uniform robotic workforce can significantly cut operational costs as the robots are not subject to human error. Smart solutions can also dramatically increase operational efficiency through better optimization of resources, like decreasing a machinery’s downtime or cutting overlapping activities. Besides the obvious savings due to optimized use of resources, manufacturing firms may expect a significant drop in maintenance costs thanks to the potential of predictive maintenance, accompanied by savings in inventory costs and logistics, while service companies may benefit from more accurate reports and interpretation of data through better risk management, design of KPIs, internal training and services that accurately address customer needs.

Intelligent process automation enables companies to optimize their processes in real-time. This increase in productivity will not only bring higher levels of output, but also potentially much broader product/service spectrum of a better quality, targeting new segments of customers with tailor-made propositions.

BUSINESS AGILITY & NEW MODELS

Process automation in a reliable way enables the companies to direct their attention to high-margin parts of their offerings, or to completely new areas of business. Driving enterprises to explore untouched market opportunities, new digital technologies are bringing complex changes to the current business models. Core resources together with the central value proposition alter, enabling the firms to extend their portfolios. Additionally, hand in hand with business agility goes the idea of customer centricity. In case of a successful extension of the product portfolio (or of the offer as such thanks to additional customer-centric services), companies will grow their business, welcoming new revenue streams to their business models.

MASTERING THE DATA

The issue companies have today is not how to collect data – but rather how to make sense out of all the data available. Everybody is talking about terms such as Big Data and Internet of Things – yet only a few actually knows how to crack it. Thanks to a significant drop in costs of computation and the development of smaller and smarter sensors, the ever-expanding connectivity allows for unprecedented insights, assuming the data are correctly analyzed and understood. This combination of arising new hardware and increasingly sophisticated software holds an immense promise for businesses, eventually enabling physical objects to communicate autonomously among each other. The potential added value hidden in all the data a company produces but not yet fully understands is truly tempting.

With increased process reliability thanks to the data processing, companies can benefit from enhanced accuracy of operations once a system of smart process automation is in place. Eliminating the potential risk of a human factor, especially when talking about routine, standardized and non-creative processes, having an intelligent automated system in operations would enable the companies to redirect their most valuable resources – the human resources – towards more business-value-adding activities.

IT INFRASTRUCTURE & ARCHITECTURE

As much as a driver, the IT infrastructure can also be the most challenging factor when shifting towards more automated and digitalized processes. Digitalizing company’s operations will require more than a simple upgrade of current IT systems – rather, the companies must be ready to review their automation and digitalization processes in a deeply complex way.

Given that some form of computation technology is incorporated to virtually every organization active on the modern markets, companies might be motivated to unify their various systems, uncovering unexpected advantages and synergies. Creating a completely new IT infrastructure is demanding in terms of time, human as well as financial resources and oftentimes the readily-available solutions on the market are not sufficient. Overcoming this challenge through a highly customized solution would ensure the company retrieves the most relevant insights, enabling for flexible reactions.

 

Besides these key categories, there is one more crucial driver for companies to implement intelligent process automation and related technologies – the company’s culture. Through their leaders, companies must evolve a certain level of digital literacy and a corresponding company culture. To fully benefit from the intelligent process automation, firms should develop a strategy and a company-wide vision of a strong digital business culture, both customer as well as employee-focused.

Workforce Management: Manage your virtual workforce real-time where ever you are!

Digital Workforce has developed its own mobile and desktop application to improve the management and result reporting of RPA based digital workforce. The Workforce Management application is already in test use and is soon made available for all Digital Workforce cloud service customers as part of the Robot-as-a-Service package.

The idea for Workforce Management originated from a customer survey that mapped customers’ wishes and needs in managing their digital workforce. The survey highlighted that organizations wanted an easily accessible and real-time channel for tracking their digital workers. The wish was motivated by the desire to attain general peace of mind, control and the ability to further develop operations.

Traditional applications offered only limited tools for monitoring and management and didn’t correspond well with the customers’ needs who wanted to know exactly what their robots had done and whether everything went as planned. The first application version of Workforce Management was quickly created and further developed in co-operation with Digital Workforce customers.

Digital Workforce developed the application for the BP platform to perform searches and present the information in a user-friendly format. Using Workforce Management, the customer organization’s admins are able to check the status, reports and performance of their robotic workforce at any time on a computer or mobile device. The application is also security-audited in May 2018.

The easy-to-use visual application integrates the management of digital workforce to the everyday life of the business and brings them better in touch with their virtual resources. In addition, the application helps the business management to further develop their use of digital workers and to identify new opportunities for their use.

Digital Workforce and Digital Workforce Academy receive Blue Prism Innovation Awards

Blue Prism has selected Digital Workforce as it’s most innovative partner and the receiver of this year’s Partner Innovation Award. DWF Academy also received special recognision and the Most Innovative Use of Blue Prism Award. The awards were delivered at the Blue Prism World event in London.

Digital Workforce was selected as the winning partner due to its innovative use of Blue Prism technology in its services. The services recognized as grounds for the Partner Innovation Award include Digital Workforce’s cloud service, mobile service management, 24/7 process maintenance and quality assurance service, online training and repository component library for cloud customers.

DWF Academy was recognised with the Most Innovative Use of Blue Prism Award only 14 months after deploying its online training academy. DWF Academy is the only provider of a full spectrum of RPA-related topics for Blue Prism including how to develop complex, scalable and robust process automations globally. Helping students to gain real-world experience in automated processes with Blue Prism gives the courses a unique twist, and its students an invaluable experience.

For more information about the awards visit Blue Prism.

Digital Workforce selected as the strategic partner to Finland’s largest healthcare district: HUS prepares to ramp up the use of software robots to boost efficiency and service quality

Digital Workforce has been selected as the strategic partner to Finland’s largest healthcare district following a competitive bidding. Digital Workforce will deliver software robots to Helsinki and Uusimaa healthcare district (HUS) as a cloud service, which can also be used to automate CE-marked clinical processes. The estimated total value of the acquisition is up to 1 300 000 euros.

Digital Workforce’s cloud-based digital workers enable the safe and agile automation of both administrative and clinical processes at HUS. Aside from software robotics, new technologies such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) may be introduced to grow the digital workers’ capabilities in the future.

Digital Workforce is Finland’s leading processes automation service provider in both private and public healthcare. In addition to HUS, the company delivers digital workers to multiple other Finnish healthcare operators such as Espoo, Istekki, 2 M-IT, Eksote and PSHP.

More information

Tiina Leivo, Head of Healthcare
Digital Workforce
+358 50 1928
tiina.leivo@digitalworkforce.fi

Digital Workforce is the first robotics company certified with ISO 20000-1 Service Management Certification

Digital Workforce, a growth-stage company delivering Intelligent Process Automation, is the first robotic company awarded service management ISO 20000-1 certification by Inspecta Certification Ltd. The certificate covers Digital Workforce’s Robot as a Service cloud service and Run Management support and maintenance service in Finland.

The awarded IT-system, certified based on international ISO / IEC 20000-1 standards, testifies to Digital Workforce’s commitment to designing, deploying, delivering and improving services in a way that meets the requirements set for software robots and provides added value to both the customer and the service provider.

Digital Workforce’s IT service management certification covers Robot as a Service, delivered from private cloud, as well as Run Management support and maintenance service. Digital Workforce’s Robot as a Service and Run Management services provide customers with a fast, scalable and secure way to utilize software bots.

– We have provided services in accordance with the ITIL- framework since the establishment of the company in 2015. We focus on quality and safety in our services. Our customer base consists of large private and public organizations that value and require high-quality and certified services from their partners, says Jukka Virkkunen, one of Digital Workforce’s founders.

“We believe that cloud services will rapidly become more common and we see that the certification of our cloud service will bring us new opportunities,” continues Virkkunen.

The company’s Robot as a Service is already the first cloud-based RPA service in the EU that can deliver CE-marked automation solutions. The CE marking signifies that the service can be utilized also to automate clinical processes that are regulated by the European Medical Devices Directive (93/42/EEC and 629/2010) and the legislation on the medical devices and supplies.

Contact Jukka Virkkunen, Partner, Digital Workforce +358 50 670 47, jukka.virkkunen@digitalworkforce.fi

Digital Workforce

Digital Workforce is the only company specialising in Intelligent Process Automation services on an industrial scale. Our intelligent digital workers automate knowledge work processes in large organisations freeing up the time of human employees for more valuable work. The deployment of digital workers requires no changes to the existing information systems. Digital Workforce was founded in the summer of 2015 and it currently employs over 150 IPA specialists in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Poland.
www.digitalworkforce.eu

Intelligent Process Automation: A short glossary

Intelligent Process Automation, IPA

Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) refers to the practice of process automation with solutions that involve smart attributes. IPA solutions are tailored to the specific requirements of the target process by combining technologies like, chat bots, computer vision, machine learning and robotic process automation software.

Robotic Process Automation, RPA

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) refers to process automation with software robots. The robots are programmed to use the applications required for the execution of the target process in the same way as a human operator would. They always follow pre-programmed rules and are easy to integrate into existing business processes.

Software robot

Software robot is a software application that is used in robotic process automation to replace the actions of a human worker interacting with the user interface of a computer system. Software robots may have some vendor specific attributes, but implementing these technologies never requires changes to existing systems.

Enterprise RPA

Enterprise RPA refers to the use of RPA technology in a large and industrial manner to achieve automation requirements of a large enterprise. Enterprise RPA solutions are scalable, easily managed and maintained. These features are achieved by specialized services such as: managing component libraries that allow the re-use of automation objects, expert support, staff training, following and managing RPA performance, support in setting up internal robotic center of excellence.

Business Process Automation, BPA

Business Process Automation refers to a high-level strategy that aims to streamline all business processes. It involves recording – and re-designing- all processes within the business to digital format and then integrating them with an automation software.

Digital worker/ Virtual worker

Digital or virtual worker refers to a software robot that takes over a process or task otherwise performed by human workers. Digital workers deliver Robotic Process Automation (RPA) services where the used technology is a pre-programmable software.

Intelligent digital worker

An intelligent digital worker is a technology platform that combines pre-programmed software robots with different cognitive technologies. An intelligent digital worker is able to handle processes that consist of more complex tasks involving unstructured data and interpretation. Intelligent digital workers are used to deliver Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) services.

Robotic Center of Excellence, CoE

Robotic Center of Excellence (CoE) is the organization’s management center for the use of automation technologies. The job of the CoE-team is to create, measure and manage a virtual workforce that supports the organization’s strategic goals.

Robotic Desktop Automation, RDA

Robotic Desktop Automation (RDA) refers to computer-specific automation that is applied to speed-up or enhance the performance of a human worker using the desktop. While RPA technologies can be referred to as virtual workers, RDA technologies work hand-in-hand with their human counterpart and thus may be called virtual assistants.

Optical Character Recognition, OCR

Optical character recognition (OCR) refers to the conversion of images of typed or hand written text into machine encoded text. OCR programs analyze scanned-in images to detect light and dark areas in order to identify alphabetic letters and numeric digits. When a character is recognized, it is converted into code. OCR is often being used to digitize typed or handwritten information.

Natural Language Processing, NLP

Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies enable computers to process large amounts of natural (human) language data. NLP technologies typically rely on machine learning to help them automatically learn new rules.

Computer Vision

Computer Vision technologies are used to enable computers to gain high-level understanding from digital images or videos. These technologies seek to automate tasks that would otherwise require the human visual system.

Chatbot

Chatbots are computer programs that can conduct a natural language conversation. They are designed to simulate a human conversation partner convincingly either via auditory or textual means. Depending on the level of sophistication of the solution, chatbots can make use of NLP technologies or analyze keywords.

Machine Learning, ML

Machine Learning (ML) gives computers the ability to “learn” (i.e. progressively improve performance on a specific task) by processing data. ML technologies can “learn” under supervision, i.e. learn general rules to map inputs to outputs based on a set of example inputs and their desired outputs. The “learning” may also be unsupervised, in which case no examples are given to the learning algorithm. Instead, it is left on its own to find structures from its inputs. Unsupervised learning can be a goal in itself (discovering hidden patterns in data) or a means towards an end (feature learning).

Cognitive Computing, CC

Cognitive Computing (CC) describes technology platforms that involve cognitive technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and chatbots. The purpose of cognitive computing is to combine these technologies to find meaning from and understand a data set at a higher level. Rather than just pure data or sensor streams, cognitive computing can deal with symbolic and conceptual information. Cognitive computing enables computers to interpret information extracted from large data sets, while humans remain in charge of the decision process.

Artificial Intelligence, AI

AI is loosely used as an umbrella term for all cognitive technologies that enable computer systems to perform tasks normally requiring some form of human intelligence. A true AI machine would combine these different technologies in such a way that it would have augmented intelligence, surpassing humans in accuracy and insight. The individual technologies, on the other hand, that are performing tasks by simulating a specific area of human intelligence are called cognitive technologies.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, VR/AR

Virtual Reality technologies are being used to create simulated environments. These technologies allow the user to experience the simulation around them – as they were part of it – not just looking in from the outside. Augmented Reality (AR) integrates digital information with live video or the user’s environment in real time to augment the video with artificially added elements or effects.

Business Process Management (Suite), BPM(S)

A business process management suite (BPMS) is a set of automated tools for designing, implementing and improving activities to accomplish a specific organizational goal. BPMS is designed to support the entire process improvement life cycle from process discovery, definition, monitoring and analysis, and through ongoing optimization. BPMS tools allow the organisations to redesign or re-engineer the whole process or set of processes and often also the related IT systems (unlike RPA which is solely using existing IT- system without changes).

Enterprise Cognitive Systems, ECS

Enterprise Cognitive Systems (ECS) are a form of cognitive computing. They are focused on action, not insight, and their intention is to assess what to do in a complex business situation. ECS makes evidence-based suggestions about how the business can achieve its goals. It does so by finding past situations similar to the current situation, and extracting the repeated actions that best influence the desired outcome.

 

Digital Workforce is the only company purely specialising in Intelligent Process Automation services on an industrial scale in the Nordic countries. We automate the routines of computer based knowledge work and liberate human employees’ time for more productive and important tasks. Learn more about us and our services on digitalworkforce.eu.

Digital Workforce presents: The Business of AI- webinar series

We are facing the most exciting revolution of our time: Intelligent technologies are fast advancing and disrupting the status quo in all areas of life. The way we work and do business is fundamentally changing. We must learn to swim in the new waters. What should you know right now, and what does the future entail? Digital Workforce’s new initiative, The Business of AI- webinar series connects business managers with the experts and visionaries of AI. Tune in to tap into the knowledge you need now! 

Digital Workforce recently launched a new initiative to cater to the needs of today’s business managers seeking AI-knowledge. The Business of AI- series hosts a monthly webinar discussion, each time with a different AI-expert providing new perspective to the topic. All the webinars are collected to one knowledge -base found on ai.digitalworkforce.eu.

The opening session of the series will be held with the best-selling AI-author Antti Merilehto April 11th, 10.00 EEST.

Key takeaways from the webinar will include:
How is AI changing the way we do business and how fast is the change?
What are the opportunities of AI?
What are the new requirements for business management and strategy?
How quickly and how should business management react?

Registration is now open – sign up free here!

Digital Workforce is the strategic partner to the City of Espoo’s introduction of organization-wide process automation

Digital Workforce has been selected as the strategic partner to Espoo’s social and healthcare function in the introduction of organization-wide process automation. Over the last years, Espoo has developed a good understanding of how software robots work and where they can be used to create most value. Ropsu, the city’s first cloud-based digital worker has been working successfully in the city’s home care unit for elderly people since 2016. Now the city, known as the forerunner of digital solutions, prepares to ramp-up the use of digital workers across the organization.

Espoo’s robotic journey

Ropsu, Espoo’s first digital worker delivered by Digital Workforce, has worked tirelessly for over a year in the city’s home care unit for elderly people. The robot works in the home care unit’s resourcing process, where it calculates substitution needs and makes the necessary substitute work orders and entries to the city’s ERP system. Ropsu’s performance continues to exceed expectations, and its introduction has also increased the customer’s understanding of software robots and their applications. In Espoo, very soon after the pilot project started it became easy to identify new processes applicable for automation. These and many other processes will soon be executed by new digital workers. Ropsu’s work will also be further expanded.

Digital workers create value for both customers and employees

The new digital colleagues are highly anticipated in Espoo. The city’s experience with awards-winning Ropsu showed that when the nursing staff was able to concentrate on customer care, the most valuable and rewarding part of their work, their job satisfaction increased. At the same time, utilizing the digital worker made it possible to accelerate business processes and improve the quality and efficiency of service. The robot was not perceived as a threat, but as a long-waited help in a situation where the staff’s time was increasingly tied to recurring computer-based tasks. Applying the same logic, Espoo has been able to identify many other processes that can – when automated – enable the city staff to concentrate on creating true value for their customers.