Case Study: Aster Healthcare

April 7, 2022

Aster Healthcare reduce operational costs and enhance finance efficiency with an automated Accounts Payable process 

Aster Healthcare owns and operates four care homes for people who require accommodation, personal and nursing care. They provide care for people with dementia as well as people who may require treatment for disease, disorder and injury. They offer short term respite and long-term residency based on a needs assessment. Full 24-hour nursing care is also provided so that people can have a home for life. The care homes are located in London, Surrey, Worcestershire and East Sussex.

The care home industry has a reputation for being heavily paper-based, with Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, recently stating that around 40 per cent of care providers are “still grappling entirely with paper-based records”. With its approved digital care planning and record keeping system, Aster Healthcare is a forward thinking organisation already embracing technology and digital innovations to drive, improve and sustain their services.

Automation for a streamlined process

During the pandemic the company experienced a significant increase in the level of purchasing from suppliers, leading to larger volumes of invoices. This had the knock-on effect of wasting valuable finance resources on time-consuming administrative tasks. With the experience of improving their patient care processes through digitisation, Aster Healthcare looked to see if they could use new technology in their finance processes to improve efficiency. Trushna Adalja, Finance Controller and Credit Manager, talked about the decision to automate, “COVID increased our purchasing dramatically, especially with new demands for items like PPE. Managing invoices had previously been a monthly exercise but was now taking up a considerable amount of time, a process that was very manual and paper heavy. We needed to look at how we could improve the approvals and process flows and we knew that automation was the way forward.”

Aster Healthcare selected Toshiba, experts in Process Optimisation, to manage their Accounts Payable transition. Jan Henderson, Process Optimisation Specialist, talked about the Toshiba approach, “We always thoroughly audit each customers business, understanding the current workflows and what they are trying to achieve; for Aster Healthcare the key objectives were to better manage supplier relations by streamlining invoice processing and re-working areas in finance to bring out efficiencies. Following this initial stage, we were able recommend the DocuWare software platform that would facilitate the essential changes to their finance activities, such as removing manual tasks, automating the approval process, reducing paper, archiving of files, and improving security from a document and individual user level with an audit trail.”

A smooth transition

With the scoping phase complete the Toshiba team implemented DocuWare at Aster Healthcare providing full training, advice and support for all personnel involved with the project. As a key user Trushna commented on the process, “The transition was very smooth, with the Toshiba team taking the time to clearly explain every part of the process in detail. They tailored the software to the specific requirements of our business and if we had any issues or queries, were available to help with a quick and efficient resolution, and it was always the same team which was really important to us from a consistency perspective.”

Simple and efficient

By automating Accounts Payable processes, Aster Healthcare have seen immediate benefits to the business, both in terms of improvements in efficiency and cost savings. The time taken to process, store and retrieve invoices has halved, saving in the region of 80 hours a month, allowing the finance team to focus on other business critical activities. They have also removed the need for rented archive rooms for document storage, as everything is now available electronically, saving £4200 a year. The reduction in paper consumption, which has yet to be quantified, is also a massive step towards their objectives of a paperless environment.

Trushna concluded on the project, “Storing, processing and retrieving invoices is now seamless for Aster Healthcare, with over 300 invoices a month it’s gone from one of the biggest drains on resources to a simple and straightforward task. I think this will be especially apparent when we are audited, as all documents can be accessed instantly, with digital indexing.”

The Toshiba team have been fantastic throughout the whole project, flexible, adaptable and knowledgeable. They are passionate about the product, know the software inside out and this comes across in their help and support, always being able to answer any questions and recommend best practice to solve a query. We now have a future proofed solution that can adapt and grow with the needs of our business and I am very much looking forward to developing the partnership with the Toshiba team. Trushna Adalja, Finance Controller and Credit Manager - Aster Healthcare