Time-period billing

and rewindable transactions engine

NHS Digital, North East and Yorkshire

The problem

NHS Digital needed a cost-effective invoicing billing engine to handle the complex billing of procurements for GP software solutions in 6,500 practices, from 70 suppliers and 200 product lines, with ever changing monthly patient count and ongoing service activations and cessations.

By developing a systems solution, we would avoid the risks of manual processing. The risks are errors caused by the sheer volume of dynamic data that needs to be managed, which creates delays of payment and budgeting and can create additional costs to the NHS, meaning reduced funds going to front line services where they are needed most.

The challenge

  • How might we deliver a low fidelity finance systems solution that is designed with the finance user in mind giving them high levels of confidence to use it?
  • How might we find a way to reduce the recurrent costs traditionally associated with financial systems without compromising on quality?
  • How might we move away from high level dependency on manual excel spreadsheets?
  • How might we maintain the flexibility to adapt and innovate with changes across the NHS estate?
  • How might we build a system able to flexibly accommodate changes so that we can meet our evolving needs over time?
  • How might we obtain a system capable of easily integrating with other business systems and to ingest data without costly or time-consuming development overheads or the requirement for specialist knowledge?
  • How might we be able to access financial data in real-time to provide bespoke reports for management insight while avoiding the human errors often associated with spreadsheet reporting?
  • How might we provide automated billing schedules attached to emails for global distribution?
  • How might we deliver the necessary automation of processes so that we can increase staff productivity?
  • How can we ensure user experience is positive and flexibility enables higher adoption?
  • How might we obtain a system that delivers a community marketplace of freely distributable add-ons to increase functionality without significant investment?
  • How can we obtain a system that is capable of covering the business requirements and not be limited in business scope coverage?

The outputs

The tangible outputs that came from our innovation are:

  • sustainable and maintainable software
  • real-time reporting and access to data
  • low-effort and sustainable operations
  • opening up the supplier market for innovation and reducing costs
  • Odoo open source and billing application proven for NHS use.

The outcomes

As a result of this project, NHS Digital realised the following:

  • the opening-up of the supplier market for increased innovation and reducing costs
  • a way of managing complex financial operations via a digital system available in perpetuity
  • cost savings on licence fees by switching from proprietary technology and opting for a free and open source solution
  • thousands of staff hours saved by automating basic adjustment processing, enabling better use of staff time, letting software do the heavy lifting
  • increased staff productivity as a result of having aligned, accurate data and departments requiring less manual administration and communicating through spreadsheets
  • opportunities for iterative improvement to the system whenever required
  • reusable existing digital building blocks.

The Innovation

Read the full innovation on billing and transactions

All the documents and resources relating to this innovation can be found in the downloads section at the bottom of the page.

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What the peer-reviewers said

“Identified a need and designed a digital solution, recognising the strength of a digital partner to support”

“I think this is an exciting approach to innovation. Open-source software can offer a cost-effective approach to development.”

“I believe this innovation demonstrates finance transformation through the adoption of open- source technology, enabling the automation of adjustments to reduce processing time, improve billing accuracy and quality whilst delivering significant cost improvement.”

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Here are all of the documents and resources related to this innovation

Innovation E4

Time-period billing and rewindable transactions engine