Professional Comment

Digital Transformation – Friend Or Foe For The Private Healthcare Sector?

By Iain Moffat, Chief Delivery Officer, MHR (

Around the globe, the healthcare sector is facing increasing headwinds. Ageing populations and the increased prevalence of chronic illnesses are putting a strain on public health services. Meanwhile, the private sector needs help with recruitment, talent retention, global supply chain pressures, and rising costs. The situation has necessitated a greater emphasis on HR to ensure that the onboarding process for new employees is swift and comprehensive. Team members should be happy, feel sufficiently rewarded and be given every opportunity to develop their skills.

At the same time, the sector is undergoing a pandemic-catalysed digital transformation journey, particularly as digital maturities in AI emphasise data collection for analytics and early diagnostics. Alongside securing data, cybersecurity is becoming a growing priority for HR professionals, as many malicious attacks on healthcare providers require watertight data storage methods and payroll processes.

When done right, technology plays a big part in helping HR teams drive efficiencies in these processes while remaining cognisant of the potential dangers.

Cut the administrative burden
From highly qualified healthcare professionals to a diverse pool of support workers, practices need to manage workforces effectively to offer exceptional patient care. An excellent place to start is by dramatically reducing administrative tasks and manual processes, as they not only slow down workflow but can also impact the quality of care as multiple touchpoints create a greater possibility of human error.

Through the implementation of integrated HR, payroll and finance platforms, MHR has calculated that healthcare organisations with 1,000+ employees can expect a 5-year net saving of up to £524,682, which could be redirected towards adding value to employee and patient support. From ease of access and having documentation stored in one centralised location to streamlined recruitment and payroll processes, there are avenues across the organisation that can be made more efficient through digital transformation. With rising costs for care and consumables, implementing time-saving technology is one avenue to save money without cutting deliverables or sacrificing the quality of care.

Easing the pressure
Secure and efficient payroll solutions also have benefits for employee retention and satisfaction levels. As the cost-of-living crisis continues to put pressure on pay packets, companies who can provide accurate and on-time payroll solutions will be popular amongst employees who are seeking to minimise their financial stress. Respondents to an MHR survey on why employees are paid incorrectly found that 50% of cases are impacted by errors when manually inputting data, 48% are affected by errors when running different reports and piecing data together, and 30% are hindered by using paper formats.

To rectify this, HR providers should turn to automated processes, which not only save processing time and improve accuracy but can also keep on top of compliance and reduce payment risks. One development in payroll technology is ‘real-time’ payroll engines, which eliminate the peaks and troughs faced by payroll teams, allowing healthcare providers to minimise time spent on administrative tasks and reducing pressure on employee capacity.

What does digital transformation of payroll and HR look like in practice?
The Priory Group is the leading independent provider of behavioural care in the UK, supporting the needs of more than 30,000 NHS and private patients every year with healthcare, adult care services, education and children’s services. Senior managers at the organisation understood that processes needed to be consolidated on one platform, giving them the flexibility suitable for modern working practices and reducing the costs of administering The Priory’s complex range of multiple employment contracts. In addition to increasing automation in payroll and improving controls around annual pay award processes, The Priory Group also wanted to see efficiency gains on the HR front. It sought improved workforce efficiency through comprehensive performance reviews to boost employee retention, improve data quality and reduce the cost of mispayments.

After examining the market and going through a tender process, MHR was selected as the supplier to assist The Priory Group in achieving its payroll and HR aims, with the cutting-edge iTrent platform as the solution. iTrent offers a modular-based platforms, and core iTrent modules in HR and payroll (including GDPR) were implemented, along with performance management, succession planning, recruitment, health and safety, and disciplinary and grievance.

The system now supports 20,000 employees in all areas of the organisation, clinical and administrative. Workflow was streamlined, and payrolls were processed swiftly and accurately for all employees, as automation tools removed human error. The Priory also uses iTrent module functionality to improve employee performance and job satisfaction through regular reviews that identify development and promotion opportunities.

In an industry where the quality of employee performance has a direct effect on patient wellbeing and clinical outcomes, it’s evident that digitally-streamlined payroll and HR solutions can have a transformative impact on performance and efficiency for patients and employees alike.