Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) is a world renowned centre of clinical excellence and one of the largest NHS teaching trusts in the UK.
The Trust is made up of four hospitals - the John Radcliffe Hospital (which includes the Children’s Hospital, West Wing Eye Hospital, Heart Centre and Women’s Centre), the Churchill Hospital and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, all located in Oxford, and the Horton General Hospital in Banbury, north Oxfordshire.
The Trust’s HR records department had previously looked at adopting a paper-lite strategy, but because of a number of reasons, the project plan was put on hold. However, the decision to relocate the central HR function to new premises in Cowley, Oxford, in the summer of 2016, made digital transformation a much more pressing requirement.
OUH employs around 13,000 full- and part-time substantive personnel. At any given time there are also around 2,000 interim, honorary, affiliated and observing specialist staff, both on and off the Trust’s payroll, of whom many also have their details stored within the HR records system.
“The office move was the key driver to digitise all HR records,” said Caroline Davies, Interim Head of Recruitment & Retention at OUH.
“We had 130 five and six drawer filing cabinets as well as a large ‘pod’ in the car park which housed files that needed to be archived or securely destroyed. Both the time and effort required to physically move them, as well as the space required for storage, were impractical, which is why we secured approval to go to tender and commence the digitisation project,” she added.
Kodak Alaris partner MISL, a leading bureau and BPO provider, won the tender to digitise the entire HR records archive. MISL specified Kodak Alaris production scanners to power through the bulk scanning of all legacy files.
There were around 13,000 files, each with multiple pages that needed to be digitised. MISL did this in batches, arranging two collections a month, commencing July 13. “It took around 16 weeks to process some 2.5 million images, which was really good going,” Caroline said.
“We have HR managers based across five sites, each of whom still had files or related documentation in their possession that we needed to digitise and so in November, we asked everyone to bring them back in. There were hundreds of documents still to be scanned and we needed this to be completed as quickly as possible,” she added.
Once captured, all of the digital documents were fed into Folding Space EDRMS (Electronic Data & Record Management System). This secure document and records management solution uniquely enables the viewing and presentation of all documents (scanned or digitally created) via a single screen user experience.
Day forward scanning, an ongoing process managed in-house by the HR records team, is conducted using Kodak Alaris wireless scanners. These flexible, powerful scanners are designed for sharing in a workgroup and enable the OUH HR records team to seamlessly capture documents as they come in, and upload them directly into the EDRMS.
OUH has a team of eight who work in the records department and who are responsible for completing all of the day forward scanning. “We have one scanner connected to an individual workstation and the other is accessible to all the team,” Caroline explained.
“We have around five to six archive boxes with miscellaneous documents that we are checking have been scanned and added to the new system, as well as a few files that didn’t make it in time for the final mop up," she added. "But apart from that, all HR records are now in digital format."
The general recruitment and medical staffing teams were also trained to use the Kodak Alaris wireless scanners to provide additional resource. “We have to tag, file and index records as well as ensure that they are stored in line with the agreed naming convention, which takes a bit of time, but the actual scanning itself is seamless. The mobile scanners are so easy to use, everyone loves the system,” Caroline said.
The HR function is very close to achieving a paperfree environment. Change forms, health and wellbeing notifications, performance reviews and other communications from managers, are now all received via email and can be seamlessly uploaded into the records system. “These documents used to have to be sent via the internal post system which took time. We’re now piloting individual drop baskets for the divisions to further streamline the process,” Caroline explained.
The time and cost savings have been significant. Previously if a file was needed, it would have to be securely couriered over or a staff member would have to collect or drop it off. “There was a lot of wasted time and effort with the old paper-based system. Now the entire team can simply log on to the system and retrieve the information they need at any time,” Caroline said.
She added: “Each division has a HR function and the plan is to train colleagues so that each division can scan and upload directly into the system. The records team will oversee and check naming protocols are adhered to etc. but this approach will further improve our efficiency and ensure that information is readily accessible across all sites in almost real-time.”
Caroline said: “Recruitment is conducted electronically and now for new starters, we only create two physical paper forms. An appointment form for payroll, which is shredded after the first payroll run, and a contract of employment which we print for them to sign before it is scanned. Everything else is put into an electronic drop basket, picked up by the records team, and saved directly into the EDRMS.” The Trust is about to pilot electronic forms with its payroll provider with a view to making this a paperless process too.
OUH has on average between 150 - 200 starters per month across all staff groups. There are also several set intake periods. “Peak times for junior doctor rotations are during February and, in particular, August, and June/July for newly qualified staff nurses. We also have a regular overseas intake, although numbers can vary greatly. During peak periods these numbers increase dramatically. It’s impossible to quantify how many man-hours we are saving now the process is (bar a few documents) fully digital, but it’s a substantial number,” Caroline explained.
In addition, the Trust has secured significant financial savings. “It’s too early for us to calculate the exact monetary gains across the time savings and efficiency gains, reduced printing costs and spend on reams of paper now that Corporate HR and the divisions are not printing documents, but we are confident that the return on investment on this initiative will be very strong,” Caroline said in conclusion.
Such has been the success of the digital transformation project the Trust is now looking to roll out the initiative across a further nine directorates.
Come and visit Kodak Alaris International Limited at stand G50 to find out more information.