Learning from the Falkirk project

Written by
James Spence, Technology Enabled Care Development Officer

Learning from the Microsoft 365 Collaboration Programme – Phase One

Phase one of the Scottish Government’s Microsoft 365 Collaboration Programme is making it possible for colleagues in NHS Boards and Local Authorities to call, message, and share calendar availability in MS Teams and Outlook.

In the Falkirk area, the project is a collaboration between Falkirk Council and the Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership, working closely with colleagues in NHS Forth Valley.  The team have recently evaluated the impact so far through a colleague survey, here’s what they found:

Arranging meetings is easier.

Generally, survey respondents found it easier to arrange meetings and check availability because online calendars are shared between organisations. This allows a meeting invite to be issued quicker than before the project – where long email trails or third-party polling websites were required to find a suitable slot in the diary.

Meetings are more agile.

Teams have been using the calendar sharing functionality to trial ‘flash meetings’ – shorter catch ups with other departments as and when needed. This has been beneficial while co-ordinating hospital discharges – bringing together colleagues from various teams to discuss the specific discharge needs of individuals. This helped solve problems quickly, especially during out-of-hours periods as they could get the information needed to make the transition from hospital to home a bit smoother.

Short-notice and adhoc calls are also easier to make because the status icon is shared between organisations – allowing someone to see if the person they want to speak to is online, away, or busy.

Need to reschedule? No worries!

Some meetings require a large invite list from across local authorities, health boards, and Partnership colleagues. To bring everyone together, meetings can be in the diary well in advance, and a change in circumstances or new sudden challenges can throw a spanner in the works if a meeting needs to be rescheduled at the last minute. But now, a suitable alternative time can be found more quickly as calendar availability is shared instantly. This means the group can reconvene quickly and get back on track.

Helping to put a face to name.

The collaboration project has also helped people put faces to names – making the jump from emails to MS Teams video and voice calls. The ease of making teams calls has helped to improve and strengthen working relationships. The project also has the potential to enhance communication with real-time chat.

So, what’s next?

While the survey found that the project has been a good step forward so far, responses highlighted that appropriate data sharing and information governance will be pivotal to unlocking the full potential of interorganisational collaboration. With the right structure and safeguards in place, we can look to enable secure and seamless data sharing which will be welcomed by integrated teams working across organisations.

Overall, the project roll out has been welcomed across local authority, health board, and partnership teams – helping to reduce workload, time pressures, and make things go a little bit smoother while working remotely and across organisations.

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