Mater hospital turns to robots to help in battle against Covid-19

Hospital using robotic process automation to free up nurses to deal with infection control

A Romanian robotic software company has teamed up with the Mater Hospital in Dublin to free up nurses from time-consuming admin work so they can concentrate on dealing with infection control, including Covid-19.

UiPath, a company whose backers include Dublin and London-based venture capital firm Draper Esprit, has assigned software “robots” to the hospital’s infection prevention and control department as part of a trial that will run until the end of the year.

The move means that data will be automated via the software, ensuring it can generate results in minutes while also freeing up nurses to focus on other critical tasks.

It is estimated the use of the software will save the department an average of three hours per days, equivalent to 936 hours over a year.


The launch of the trial couldn’t be better timed given that the lab expects to receive hundreds of swabs and microbiology tests in the coming months due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

“With the Covid-19 pandemic unfolding now, it is crucial that all frontline staff are freed up as much as possible to spend time with patients and deal with this outbreak, rather than being in front of computers,” said Jincy Jerry, assistant director of nursing at the department.

“Not only will automation help with this, but it will also take the strain off the hospital as it continues to process huge amounts of more routine patient data in addition to Covid-19 specific information,” she added.

Huge strain

Ms Jerry said she was confident the project would help mitigate the huge strain that the Covid-19 outbreak is having, not just on the Mater but on all healthcare organisations across the State.

The Mater isn't the only Irish organisation turning robotic process automation (RPA) to automate what are often mundane tasks. The Revenue Commissioners last year teamed up with Deloitte for a pilot programme to update some 20,000 taxpayer records with software robots. Bank of Ireland meanwhile has more than 130 "robots" looking after over 100 processes.

Technology research company Gartner recently forecast that global spending on RPA software will jump to $2.4 billion (€2.19 billion) in 2022 after recording 57 per cent growth in 2018 to $680 million.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist