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 our 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


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

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.

Come meet us at DIGISOTE2017- event 8.-9.11. in Helsinki

Come meet us and the virtual workers at DIGISOTE2017- event 8.-9.11. in Helsinki, Clarion hotel. 

DIGISOTE-event focuses on the digitization of SOTE (social and healthcare) services in Finland. The event is directed to SOTE- professionals and IT managers. Find out what services to digitize and how the benefits are realized.

More about the event and sign up here.


RPA company Digital Workforce receives CE Mark and appoints Head of Healthcare

The leading RPA company in the Nordics, Digital Workforce, has received CE Mark for its Robot as a Service concept. To support the growing market demand in healthcare, the company has appointed Head of Healthcare, MD, PhD and M.Sc. (Econ.), Tiina Leivo.

Leivo will be responsible for leading and developing the CE marked Robot as a Service concept in the primary markets of healthcare in the Nordic countries. Leivo joins from Terveystalo, the largest healthcare service company in Finland, where she was the Director of Ophthalmology Health Services.

“The potential and need for fast automation is huge in healthcare. It has been one of our key customer segments from the beginning. Tiina Leivo brings a wealth of strategic and operational experience, new perspective and profound industry knowledge to our team,” said Heikki Länsisyrjä, one of the founders of Digital Workforce.

“I want to be involved in creating new solutions. And, I see how a real change in healthcare can be achieved through IT and change in work processes. Robotic Process Automation is an excellent way to make healthcare more efficient. I am familiar with the healthcare processes and can help customers identify areas, where robotics would be of great help to them,” explained Tiina Leivo.

Digital Workforce’s Robot as a Service delivers digital workers i.e. software robots from a cloud-based service. The company’s digital workers have automated processes in healthcare, such as registering examination referrals, reporting laboratory results and staff resourcing in home care, which also took victory in an international innovation competition. Customers can easily monitor the work of digital workers on their mobile devices.

The company’s Robot as a Service is 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.

“In Sweden, all healthcare processes that digital workers automate, require a CE Mark. In Finland, a CE Mark is needed when automation is used in clinical processes. We now have a CE marked concept and automation experience from tens of healthcare processes. Our digital workers bring measurable results in weeks without any required changes to the existing IT systems. The healthcare organisations
have welcomed the digital workers with a great excitement and interest,” added Leivo.


Heikki Länsisyrjä, Partner, Digital Workforce, +358 50 558 7801,

Tiina Leivo, Head of Healthcare, Digital Workforce, +358 50 1928,

Digital Workforce

Digital Workforce is the only company purely specialising in RPA services in the Central-Northern European region. Our digital workers automate the routines of computer based knowledge work freeing up the time of human employees for more productive and important tasks. 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 80 RPA specialists in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Poland.

Decoding the robotic potential – Stephen Chilton of Birmingham University Hospital on RPA

Digital Workforce attended Healthcare ADP-days 2016, a convention about IT in healthcare, held in Lahti, Finland on 24.5.-25.5.2016. Separate from the main event, DWN had invited a selected group of people to a private cocktail hour held on the evening of the 24th. The co-founders of DWN used the hour to present the findings of their Tekes funded research and had also invited a guest speaker, the IT director of the Birmingham University Hospital, Stephen Chilton to share his experiences in the use of RPA.

The cocktail hour was opened with words from Heikki Länsisyrjä followed by Mika Vainio-Mattila’s research presentation. Vainio-Mattila brought forward findings that suggested over 70% of healthcare professionals felt the time they used on IT-based knowledge work is time spent away from patient care. According to the study 30% of doctors use more than six hours per shift navigating and registering information on different IT-systems.

Answers given by the 5754 study respondents revealed the amount of knowledge work to be on the rise. Moreover, much of the time is spent on double registrations because of the limited integration of various systems. DWN concluded that the price of double registrations, based on direct salary costs within the nine studied healthcare districts, is around €54M. A further approximation was that around 2-10% of knowledge work, currently done by healthcare professionals, could be automated. This level of automation would generate savings of around €300M-600M in Finland and would also help in allocating resources more to core activities.

Decoding the potential, the guest speaker of DWN, Stephen Chilton told of his own experiences in utilising RPA. The Birmingham University Hospital serves around 900 000 patients with the amount expected to rise each year. According to Chilton, RPA has made it possible to handle the increasing number of patients with the manpower available without increasing the size of their digital workforce at the same rate.

Looking for a cost-effective solution to manage IT functions, the organisation had been challenged to find something that would fit their needs. Finally, in 2007, a small company called Blue Prism, a newcomer to healthcare, came up with a suggestion. Since then, RPA has proven its functionality by being self-sufficient with competency development, supporting a growing number of processes and transaction types as well as greater volumes.

Chilton told a story from 2010 when issues with the new hospital front desk design had posed a serious question: How to check in 2000-2500 patients a day with just two registration desks? As a response, a new kiosk-like check-in system, complete with the RPA software of Blue Prism was set up. The solution was found highly successful and became a commercial innovation on its own. Nowadays the solution is sold to other organisations, yielding royalty fees to the innovative hospital.

In another example, Chilton explained how the performance framework of the hospital is monitored centrally by the NHS & the Department of Health. The data can be gathered via an in-house or commercial system to be delivered to the national system. However, as the national system is a closed environment, the hospital cannot share data directly from their systems. Instead, dozens of people were needed to manually insert the information into the national system. RPA technology took over the task, generating savings, increasing efficiency and eliminating costly errors. In the Birmingham University Hospital, RPA is also being used in the downloading of referral letters, test results and examination notes of patients who are being referred to Birmingham via national systems.

Chilton pointed out that information from different systems needs to be well integrated but the prices of commercial vendors are often very high. For example, the Birmingham University Hospital used a stock control system for drugs while the drugs were physically in a warehouse controlled by second warehouse system. Both of these systems were found to be incompatible and vendors were contacted about developing an integration between the systems. The two organizations came out with a proposal of 6-month development time and prize of 20000 GBP per vendor. After politely declining the offer, Birmingham University Hospital implemented RPA to automate information flow between the two systems. The project was finished within 8 days with a fraction of the price. Chilton has approximated that in 2016 RPA will save their hospital £175 000 every hour in labour costs and a further £1,7M-2,2M in cost avoidance.

Tekes Health Tuesday: Next Generation of Healthcare

As part of a series of events, Tekes organised Health Tuesday breakfast 3.5. in Helsinki Hardrock Café. The event offered participants an opportunity to discuss the latest healthcare technologies and meet influencers from both private and public sector. The breakfast event was also broadcasted live-stream to parallel events around Finland and shared online as webcast.

The theme of the morning was Next Generation of Healthcare. Keynote speakers delivered presentations challenging the current IT-systems in their ability to support healthcare professionals, in giving best possible care to their patients. Speakers agreed that health care should revolve around people, not IT.

Jari Renko, Apotti’s Director of Technology and Production argued that the next step for Finnish healthcare is implementing a data base able to facilitate more functional data sharing. Apotti’s goal is to set up an interface that serves both patients and healthcare professionals in enabling patient data flow and building better healthcare networks, also internationally.

Mika Vainio-Mattila, co-fouder of Digital Workforce Nordic offered another solution, not dependent on heavy-to-implement renewing of existing IT-systems. He suggested that software robotics could offer lighter, but cost-effective and operationally efficient way, to improve healthcare professionals ability to focus on the core of their work. Referring to recent research findings that underline a major problem in the amount of time healthcare professionals use on dealing with different IT-systems, Vainio-Mattila described how software robotics could respond to the challenges.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology can be programmed to take over the routine IT activities, currently overwhelming doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers. Furthermore, RPA makes multiple IT-systems compatible, creating a connective layer between different interfaces. The technology performs routine tasks independently, making it quick to implement and diminishing the need for workers to learn to operate yet another interface.

To see all presentations find the event recording here.

More information on Tekes Health Tuesdays here.