Huddle and iPads replace email, paper and SharePoint for collaboration on board packs
Board meetings at South Tyneside NHS Trust are now completely paperless as members can review the relevant documentation on their iPads via Huddle. Thanks to the cloud content collaboration service, board members securely access their board packs from their homes or remote office locations nationwide, reducing the Trust’s paper usage by 100 reams a month. In addition, significant amounts of administration staff’s time has been saved as hours are no longer spent printing and collating all of the paperwork ahead of meetings.
South Tyneside NHS Trust provides community and hospital services to the people of South Tyneside and the surrounding areas. With the Trust’s board members dispersed across the borough, and many of them without a desk within the Trust’s premises, staff were faced with the challenge of creating, collaborating on and sharing board packs every month. Often 600 pages long, sections of board packs were often sent back and forth via email during the creation process for feedback and approval. However, this resulted in confusion over who had made what changes to a file and whether everyone was looking at the final version.
In addition, administration staff would spend significant amounts of time printing and putting together all of the relevant information for each board member. These packs were then picked up from the Trust by members or sent out via recorded delivery. Martin Alexander, Director of Information Services, South Tyneside NHS Trust explains:
“Creating and distributing the board report every month was a logistical nightmare. Email is a poor collaboration tool when it comes to file management and the biggest problems are version control and security. When you send an email attachment to 20 people, you end up with 20 different versions of the same file stored locally on people’s devices. No one knows which version is final or what content has changed. Many of the secretaries also had to spend significant amounts of time standing next to the photocopier to create hard copies of the final document.”
To improve efficiency and productivity, Lorraine Lambert, the Trust’s chief executive, set the Trust a goal of achieving paperless board meetings. If the project proved successful, it would then be extended to all meetings across the Trust. To realise this goal and provide access to documentation from locations outside of the corporate network, the Trust decided to roll-out iPads to all board members.
“Once we had settled on the iPad as the best tablet for the paperless project, we faced the problem of how to share documentation securely via an easy-to-use service,” explains Alexander. “Not only was security vital given the nature of information being discussed and shared, but the application deployed had to be very intuitive. The Trust’s board members have varying IT capabilities and I didn’t want to roll something out that was too complex for people to use. We considered SharePoint as we use it for static information libraries and record management, but we needed a high degree of mobility and SharePoint simply wasn’t up to scratch. It doesn’t have a good iOS application, it’s difficult to provide people with external access and complicated to use. So, we looked at secure cloud services.”
To meet the requirements of the Data Protection Act, the Trust had to ensure that all data remained in the UK. Due to the fact that it is pan government accredited at IL2 and has a UK data centre, Huddle was recommended by the Trust’s information governance officer as the best secure cloud service for the project. A Huddle workspace is now created for each meeting and all content associated with a particular meeting can be stored in one central place and administered by a specific secretary. Should legacy board papers need to be revisited, members can access the relevant workspace rather than going through five or six filing cabinets of legacy paperwork as everything is now stored in Huddle’s secure cloud.
“With any IT deployment, demand has to be driven by user demand and not technology and this is exactly what is now happening with Huddle. We’ve hit the sweet spot where Huddle is now spreading virally to other meetings and people are starting to use not just the iOS apps, but also the web offering. Huddle has enabled people to get to grips with electronic systems and significantly improved efficiency, so we’re now in a position to scale the project up,” Alexander concludes.
“Healthcare organisations are increasingly looking for innovative and secure ways to support an increasingly mobile workforce and provide people with access to the information they need regardless of their location,” said Alastair Mitchell, CEO, Huddle. “South Tyneside NHS Trust’s use of iPads and Huddle to achieve its paperless meeting objective is a shining example of how new technology can improve productivity and increase efficiencies. As we’ve increased our NHS contracts by 44% over the same period last year, it looks like many other Trusts will be following South Tyneside NHS Trusts lead.”