Camden CCG is an independent statutory body, governed by members who are the GP practices in their area. The CCG has control of Camden’s healthcare budget and ‘buys’ local healthcare services on behalf of the local population. This includes most hospital services and community-based services like blood testing and physiotherapy

If there is one thing Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) need, it is the ability to work securely with all the contributing agencies. In the case of Camden CCG, this includes everyone from health and social care providers in the Borough, to Council officers, GP surgeries, the University College London Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital. The goal? To maintain rigorous control over Camden’s healthcare budget, commission community and secondary healthcare services for local citizens and to improve the health of the local population.

Until recently though, collaborating on content was far from straightforward. The Camden CCG is a new organisation created under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and collaboration in its formative phase was conducted most commonly using email. As might be expected, emails were easily overlooked, document version control quickly became a key issue and individuals were often unsure whether they were working from the most up-to-date version of a document.

According to Ray Hill, digital transformation lead, Camden CCG, traditional sharing approaches were never going to be a practical proposition to overcome this collaboration conundrum:

“If I’d been building a traditional sharing site to manage this inter-agency collaboration, I would have needed to connect eight different sites. Given all the firewalls involved, such a task would have been very expensive and I would probably still be working on the deployment.”

Working on documents across agencies quickly, securely and easily 

The Camden CCG initially used Huddle for the Mental Health Review programme, which was focused on improving the way in which people with mental health problems are supported and how their care plan is formulated. Huddle enables all internal and external programme participants

  •  including local psychiatric services, the Council, GP surgeries and patient advocacy groups
  • to quickly and easily access, review and share documents associated with the programme. 

Participants can securely edit documents, add comments and keep track of different versions of every document in the dedicate workspace. 

“We need to deliver dialogue, debate and good ideas with multiple agencies, like acute units, other providers, polyclinics. Huddle supports all of these,” says Hill.

The traditional barriers associated with sharing data through the firewall disappeared with the Mental Health Review programme. In fact, there are far more Huddle users who are external to the Camden CCG, than there are internal users. 

“When it comes to joint working initiatives, Huddle is now a key technology for external communications. It means we can share data transparently. If we were using email collaboration, I’m not sure there would be the same level of engagement or interaction. I’ve worked in IT for 30 years and never had so much senior management buy-in and attention as we get with Huddle,” continues Hill.

The Camden CCG now has more than 20 Huddle workspaces and around 120 users. The cloud collaboration platform has been extended to support a wide range of initiatives, including urgent care reviews, aimed at making it easier to access local NHS healthcare services in England.

Pan-Government Accreditation to IL2 standard vital

Information security is of course of paramount importance. Huddle is pan government accredited at IL2 and, although not used to share patient identifiable information, the service is used to show the results of patient care, extending to local healthcare planning, analysis and service descriptions. 

“Huddle’s pan government accreditation at IL2 was vital as we are still storing very sensitive data, even if it’s not personally identifiable” says Hill. “The accreditation helped us sell Huddle into the management team – as did the fact that Huddle is used by the Cabinet Office.”

Huddle’s ease of use has also fuelled fast adoption of the service. The Camden CCG team went live within one day of deploying Huddle and training requirements have been minimal. Hill explains:

“We were offered one-to-one training, but only three people took it up – and even then it was more of a chat than education. Any issues with Huddle can also be resolved via a 10 minute phone call to our Huddle success manager. The days of hugging tin are over. The secure cloud is the way forward and Huddle is at the vanguard of that change in the way organisations are collaborating.”

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