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Hyper-automation through PowerApps is the key to an ambitious project to shift Belfast Trust’s operations entirely away from paper. 


With an audacious goal of removing all paper from its operations within a year, Belfast Health & Social Care Trust (known as Belfast Trust) who deliver integrated health and social care to about 340,000 citizens in Belfast and provides most regional specialist services across Northern Ireland, turned to eir evo, a leading telecommunications and ICT solutions provider.  

In particular, the IT team at Belfast Trust had earmarked paper-based forms relating to procedures as a key repeatable process that could move to becoming paperless. “For an endoscopy alone, there were four forms and each of them has four pages which had to be printed out each time a form needed to be completed,” explains Paul Gilbride, Emerging Technology Director at eir evo. “And each form could be printed as much as 40 times every week. By digitising the form, the opportunity to save 160 pages being printed each week was there. If you multiply this by 200 forms, then you’re talking about 2.5 million pages a year being saved.” 

“If the Power Platform, which is part of the Trust’s Microsoft 365 licensing model, could digitise the paper-based process for one procedure, then it could do it for more than 300 procedures,” explains Paul adding that any new processes could also be onboarded into this technology stack.  

Having completed multiple hacks with other clients, Microsoft & the eir evo team immediately realised Belfast Trust would be an ideal candidate for a hack. The challenge could be addressed by deploying a Power App to make the endoscopy form process completely paperless. “A hack is the fastest most interactive way to work through a business challenge and see the benefits with minimal time/cost investment,” says Paul.  

A hack essentially allows a business to learn about the technology and see how it fits into their strategy, while also providing the building blocks for the business case for investment into this digital solution area,

he added.  

While remote hacks are possible, eir evo and Belfast Trust agreed that running an on-premises hack in Belfast would provide the greatest results. This would see eir evo bring its multidisciplinary evo labs team, including a solution architect, a specialist Power Platform developer, a UX UI specialist and a customer experience specialist, as well as Paul himself. 

Over the two-day hack, the team built a forms portal and specifically the endoscopy form in a Power App, which it then turned into a Teams App and a chatbot called “Henrik”. All were then delivered right into Belfast Trust’s user acceptance testing (UAT) environment. 

“More often than not, a hack is the fastest way to drive a new technology into a business because they get to see their specific data and process being addressed by a technology they may not know much about.” 

As part of the hack, the eir evo team also showed Belfast Trust how it could save tens of thousands of pieces of paper a month by shifting to fully paperless forms, while also saving energy in terms of printer use and benefitting from a more efficient system.  

Not only that, but eir evo also road mapped a future where it could raise up Belfast Trust Citizen Developers to enable this transformation and to fast forward the development team’s understanding of the platform so it could achieve greater automation sooner. 

“By delivering the technology via Microsoft, we are working with an organisation that is committed to being zero waste, carbon neutral and water positive by 2030, so the goals across Microsoft, eir evo and Belfast Trust are the same: to create true sustainability through technology” Paul adds.  

One of the most valuable benefits, however, comes in terms of patient care, says Paul. “Going paperless frees up healthcare staff to spend more time having conversations with patients and engaging with them, instead of using the available time filling out forms. There are incredible benefits in terms of sustainability and automation, but what matters most for Belfast Trust is how it can best meet patient needs.” 




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