Automated finance technology has been expanded to tens of thousands of suppliers in the NHS.
The AI technology solution is a self-service portal called Ask Accounts Payable, Ask AP, delivered by Brightmast, and it uses intelligent automation to provide instant answers and solutions to queries on topics such as invoices.
ELFS Shared Services, an operating division of the Northern Care Alliance, has made Ask AP available to 236 Trusts in NHS England and 45,000 suppliers to the NHS.
It uses technology to change the way it manages the relationship between the 15 NHS Trusts using its Finance business service, and the 27,000 suppliers to the NHS with which ELFS deals with on their behalf.
It means suppliers can save time on invoice queries and access the service from any device instantly.
Graham Gornall, managing director of NHS ELFS Shared Services said: “We have pioneered the use of this smart technology to change the way in which we provide our services.
“We have taken time to work with suppliers to the NHS and the NHS Trusts we support to ensure that the service provided by the technology meets both of our needs.
“Introducing this technology needed careful thought and planning and we needed to be sure that it could perform the tasks that have previously been carried out by people without any disruption.
“Our staff are able to focus on the things that are really important in the department as the pressure and demands previously placed on them are huge, so their quality of life in the workplace has improved.
“Suppliers are saving in excess of 80 percent of their time as they are no longer constrained by the availability of our people to answer queries and keep the supply chain moving. “
Simon Robinson, of Brightmast said: “We are delighted to be able to be able to play a part in the transformation of the NHS.
“Our technology is described by experts as disruptive, and what we have proved with ELFS is it can be applied at scale in the NHS which is an economy in its own right. The positive disruption is not limited to changing the way in which people work, but it is also changing the way in which customers buy. Programmes of this nature have previously cost many millions of pounds to build and deploy.
“With advances in technology and the reductions in costs that AI and Cloud services are delivering, we are able to offer these services to Trusts for hundreds of pounds a year, rather than the six and seven figure sums that would have previously been paid.
“We look forward to continuing to introduce change and innovation into the NHS and to our corporate clients in the commercial sector”