Reliable systems will help the NHS fight fraud

NHS Fraud

The NHS has suffered a great deal of scrutiny recently – as the service tries to battle with public sector cuts and increasing demand from patients, it must now respond to the latest blow: the cost of fraud in the NHS. A BBC Panorama programme which aired last month revealed that NHS fraud and error is ‘costing the UK £7 billion a year’. The last thing the service needs is to lose money to fraud and error when the pressure to save and cut costs has never been higher.

Given that the biggest areas of fraud are found to be payroll and procurement budgets, we must focus on these processes to determine where the faults can be fixed. Payroll fraud can happen in a number of ways: some examples include employees claiming overtime for hours not worked, false expense reimbursement claims and lastly, unauthorised changes to an organisation’s payroll systems (such as an employee adding ghost employees to the payroll who either do not exist or do not work for the organisation).

A report from the National Fraud Authority echoes this and states that payroll fraud costs the public sector £335 million a year. In reality, the figure is probably even higher– not all payroll fraud is accounted for because it can go unnoticed with unreliable systems in place. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case.

Many parts of the NHS still rely on “weak data” to run their payroll and workforce management systems, rather than leveraging real-time data to show staff availability and validate that rosters are being worked as planned.Yet, the latter is important not only for accurate shift allocation, but even more so for patient safety. For example, a recent report from the London School of Economics and Policy Analysis Centre shows that even an inaccuracy of 0.09% in the NHS payroll equates the cost of the employment of up to 2,000 additional nurses!

In order to eliminate payroll fraud, NHS leaders and staff need to embrace the latest Time and Attendance (T&A) systems and integrate them with payroll. The London School of Economics and Policy Analysis Centre report supports this by voicing potential savings of £71.5million from the use of T&A systems in the NHS.

For this vision to become a reality, the image of industrial-style “clocking-in” systems must be scrapped. Modern self-service biometrics terminals allow staff to quickly, easily and securely record their activity, thereby ensuring accurate payroll and preventing fraud occurring. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) issued guidance earlier this year, describing good quality data as “the cornerstone of effective staff planning and review”. Now, when the topic of fraud arises, NHS leaders must remember that good quality data and reliable systems will be the answer for prevention.

How Mature Are You? Part 4

There are many organisations that have evolved through the first three phases of the workforce management maturity curve*, from seeing their workforce as an expense they now see them as a resource and a flexible asset.

Best-in-class organisations that have moved into the fourth phase, The Innovate Phase now view their workforce as an absolute competitive advantage. For them, their employees are their most critical asset who, when given the right tools, training and support enable these organisations to achieve great results that their customers’ value and their peers and competitors envy.

Workforce Maturity Curve 4Organisations in the Innovate phase are embracing Big Data initiatives to identify triggers that influence growth, profitability, brand reputation, and operational excellence, as well as organisational transparency and accountability.

In the Innovate phase, organisations incorporate labour metrics into their Big Data strategies, to transform their workforce into a network of individuals all working together to achieve a desired result.

The correlation of workforce data with operational measurements of inputs & outcomes can yield powerful insight into the impact of your people on business growth, brand perception and ultimately shareholder value. Big Data strategy will enable business innovation and continuous improvement. Lack of understanding of how to use analytics to improve the business is the biggest obstacle in achieving success with big data. Organisations must move the analysis from an IT function to a business operations function – combining measurements, analytics and business intelligence tools with visibility and controls for business leaders to understand and act on.

When workforce analytics is combined successfully with operational data, actionable information will lead to operational comparisons and adjustments. Initial tracking of labour metrics like absenteeism, turnover and overtime can evolve into industry-specific trends and analysis. Retail stores can see the impact in increased operating margins, profit per employee and a stronger brand reputation. Manufacturing and Contract Services organisations can achieve operational excellence lean labour principles. The Supply chain can manage in the moment in warehouses and distribution channels and Healthcare providers provide better patient care and outcomes.

When your workforce evolves from a cost of doing business into a competitive advantage, your organisation can make that leap from good to great!

If you have any questions or comments please post them and I will be happy to respond.

The workforce management maturity curve was first discussed in detail in my US Kronos colleagues’ blog It’s About Time

How Mature Are You? Part 1

This is not a trick question. In the world of workforce management, where you are on the maturity curve* could mean the difference between being a high-performance organisation with a real competitive advantage or one that struggles to survive – particularly in these challenging economic times. High performing organisations look to be at the top of the workforce management maturity curve, but there are benefits to be gained wherever you are and it doesn’t matter what size organisation you are or what industry you operate in – if you want your workforce to be key to your success and bring true competitive advantage – you should want to know where you are.

Workforce Management Maturity Curve - Automate The first phase of workforce management maturity is the move from manual to automated. The Automate Phase focuses on the ability to streamline, simplify, and standardise necessary business processes such as attendance and absence management and/or calculating hours for payroll. As with all phases in workforce management maturity, the automate phase combines both process and technology improvements. And while the levels of complexity and maturity vary drastically from one organisation to the next, often there are additional automation steps organisations can take even if they have some level of workforce management already in place.

The value of its people increases as an organisation navigates the automate phase. Automation unburdens the workforce and allows their time and energy to be invested in higher value activities that will help your organisation achieve its strategic goals.

So here are a few questions for you:

• Do you know who is at work right now?
• Do you know who is working overtime?
• Who was late this-morning?
• Who was missing yesterday?

In my next post I will be introducing you to the next level – The Planning Phase – don’t forget to sign up to my blog so that you won’t miss it. And if you have any comments or questions it would be great to hear from you, I will be happy to respond.

*The workforce management maturity curve was first discussed in detail in my US Kronos colleagues’ blog It’s About Time.