When SharePoint failed, Huddle stepped in
NHS Stockport CCG is an NHS clinical commissioning group made up of the 50 General Practices in Stockport. NHS Stockport CCG has responsibility for commissioning health and care services on behalf of patients registered with Stockport GPs.
NHS Stockport CCG is in the midst of a major transformation programme. The strategic ambition is to deliver an improved system of care for local people, with primary care expanding its skills and capacity to improve the consistency of quality standards and outcomes.
Increasingly, care will be provided jointly by health and social care across Stockport. Hospital services are changing, for example, with specialist services increasingly coming together in centres of excellence. GPs and other clinicians in Stockport will build on their strong history of leading the commissioning of services.
This transformation demands a great degree of seamless collaboration between all stakeholders—including the CCG, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, HealthWatch, Foundation Trust Hospitals, Mental Health Providers, Ambulance Services and the third Sector.
However, according to Paul Fleming, Associate Director IM&T, NHS Stockport CCG, traditional IT systems and ways of working didn’t necessarily enable the required level of inter-agency working, data security also represented a barrier. He explains:
“We use SharePoint to work together inside the CCG. However, we needed to share content with external agencies on the other side of the firewall—something beyond our current configuration of SharePoint. Even though we’re not sharing confidential patient data, we still need to be certain that any external collaboration is managed securely. It all started out of the need for cross organisational calendar views, then we targeted a much wider opportunity"
Huddle was on Fleming’s radar owing to his extensive knowledge of IT.
“I heard about Huddle on the technology grapevine and, with so many healthcare and other government agencies already using this cloud platform, I knew it was worth exploring further,” Fleming explains.
That exploratory research and free trial convinced Fleming that Huddle was just what they needed to support secure, inter-agency collaboration on the transformation programme.
“Huddle does it all: cross-firewall working, an ultra-high degree of data security and mobile integration. It’s also incredibly easy to use,” he concludes.
Using Huddle, all 100 users can quickly and securely create and share any type of content with anyone inside or outside NHS Stockport CCG. Audit trails and granular permissions mean the users always know who has seen which file and when. Tight version control also ensures that users are working from the right version of every file, every time—with previous versions easily accessible.
“Huddle is saving NHS Stockport CCG a huge amount of time, money and effort by centralising content in the cloud and giving everyone secure access to that content,” says Fleming. “We initially deployed Huddle across the project groups involved in the reform programme. The work streams have flourished since then, with more and more teams joining the Huddle central document store. Various senior management meetings and internal Boards have also started using Huddle and this has considerably reduced the amount of paper printed, such as meeting minutes and other documents.”
One of the main reasons for the popularity of Huddle is the service’s flexibility and ease of use.
“Huddle is so intuitive, most people can use it with minimal training,” explains Fleming. “Best of all, they can also access the content through their mobile device. I generally prepare for meetings by checking papers on my tablet. For meetings I’m not formally part of I can be alerted to add comments to an item electronically and don’t need to attend. Experiences like this are great for people’s productivity."
SharePoint continues to play a dominant role in NHS Stockport CCG collaboration but it is limited to internal collaboration as it stumbles on cross-firewall working. Fleming explains:
“To have used SharePoint for this transformation programme, with our current infrastructure, would have required a prohibitive amount of development and technical changes to enable external collaboration. Huddle just does this as standard. When you’re dealing with a major transformation programme, to improve the system of care for local people, technology solutions need to facilitate collaboration and be able to move at pace.”