NSW Health Support Services will begin piloting an invoice scanning system at two area health services next month as part of a suite of e-business initiatives being rolled out statewide.
Health Support Services, the shared services unit of NSW Health, this week named Kofax as its front-end invoice scanning tool in a deal worth US$750,000 ($814,425).
Basware will also provide middleware to control invoice processing workflows as part of the solution.
The project is expected to streamline data entry and reduce "paper shuffling" between two Health Support Service invoice processing centres and the state's area health services.
The shuffling typically occurs when a paper invoice is received from an area health service without a corresponding purchase order.
"We've got two million invoices processed by the Health Support Services centres [every year]," Health Support Services program manager Kellie Bowyer said.
Health Support Services and the area health services currently lack visibility as invoices change hands.
"Once the area health service sends off that invoice [to Health Support Services] they can't see it," Bowyer said.
And when an invoice has to be returned to an area health service, there's no way of knowing if it ever comes back.
The electronic invoice processing system will bring greater visibility to these processes, according to Bowyer.
Health Support Services will capture and extract data from invoices that originate in 220 public hospitals and more than 500 community health centres statewide, according to Kofax.
The resulting data and images will then be matched and validated at the two Health Support Service centres and exported into an Oracle Financials system for further processing.
"In the future if the invoice matches a corresponding purchase order, it will automatically go into the schedule to get paid," Bowyer said.
"The only invoices that will be rerouted are those that come in without a purchase order. These will [now] be sent back electronically."
Bowyer said that once an invoice is scanned into the new system it is then shredded, reducing physical storage requirements.
"But the big benefit is control," she said. "Area health services can see who is raising purchase orders and who isn't, and what outstanding invoices they've got that haven't been paid."
User acceptance testing of the invoice scanning system is expected to begin later this month. "We'll look to go live at two pilot sites in mid-February and progressively roll out across every other area health service after that," Bowyer said.
Bowyer said that while invoice scanning was a "phase one initiative" for the Kofax system, part of the reason that system was selected was because it was flexible enough to be applied to other paper processes.
"The solution also lends itself to doing any other paper-based forms processing in the future - for example leave [forms], petty cash or staff reimbursement," Bowyer said.
The invoice scanning system is one of three "very separate" projects that form a wider e-business suite being progressively rolled out across the state.
The projects are "major initiatives for Health Support Services to be able to trade electronically with vendors", Bowyer said.
The other two projects concentrate on e-procurement. Vendors can either take advantage of e-procurement features within their enterprise resource planning systems or use a soon-to-be-created Health Supply Portal.