When Microsoft offered its Teams service to the NHS free of charge to aid remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, NHS Arden & GEM CSU matched that support with free set-up support.
Having successfully migrated 900 of its own employees onto the software over the last 12 months, Arden & GEM has used its learning to offer free training and support to any NHS organisations wanting to establish secure remote working and make the most of Microsoft Teams.
Harri Mistry, Systems Development & Application Services Lead at Arden & GEM CSU explained the approach. “One of the defining features of this pandemic is the pace with which digital tools have been adopted, not just in the NHS but across all industries. But to make sure change driven by an emergency leads to long term acceptance of new ways of working, it’s important to put the right support in place at the outset to help people understand how to make best use of the tools available to them.
“Like all NHS organisations, we are very keen to support the coronavirus response, and helping people set up the technology needed to enable home working was one way we could help. Following Microsoft’s temporary free Teams offer, we’ve been inundated with requests for set-up support from GP practices, CCGs, hospital trusts and Primary Care Networks.”
The CSU’s approach has been to take the hassle and uncertainty out of getting started with Microsoft Teams. With appropriate governance in place, Arden & GEM has set up approximately 90 external Teams sites so clinicians and colleagues can work together effectively and use Teams to support patient care where appropriate. Benefits include video calling, instant messaging, secure file sharing and collaborative working. With all information held securely on the cloud, there is no need for complex Virtual Private Networks or shared file networks. This is particularly useful when it comes to working holistically with multidisciplinary teams who rely on different systems.
Using Teams, clinicians and their colleagues are able to share information quickly and safely, so that patients receive the best care in these challenging circumstances.
“By taking on the technical task of setting up and configuring Teams sites for different organisations, we’ve made it easier for the NHS to adopt this new technology and realise the longer-term benefits of digital tools, both in enabling efficient teamwork across multiple locations and in supporting patient care.” Harri added.
Maximising additional benefits
As well as supporting customers, Arden & GEM has used Microsoft Teams to support staff morale during lockdown. With many employees working remotely for the first time, the CSU has sought to find ways to ensure teams are staying in touch and feel supported. As well as using Microsoft Teams to enable file sharing and regular meetings, many departments have been running staff quizzes and team get togethers to build morale. Employees have also been encouraged to use the technology to keep in touch with friends and family.
Harri concluded: “We are all acutely aware of the strain lockdown has put on people who have been unable to see friends and family. We’ve actively encouraged our employees to make use of their Teams account to call friends and relatives, safe in the knowledge that the system is secure. There is no additional cost to the organisation in doing this, but there are considerable benefits for all of us in being able to stay connected."
Anyone interested in finding out more about how Arden & GEM can help their organisation make the best use of Teams can contact Harri Mistry on firstname.lastname@example.org.