Teaming Up

Rehabilitation Team Leader and eHealth AHP Clinical Lead, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde
@ChrisPantrey

In early 2020, having a laptop and using it for electronic health and care records (EHCR), emails, eLearning and more was fairly familiar to our community rehab teams. Some staff even worked from home on occasions! But most still came to base first thing and we had regular meetings with each other.

Things were about to get a whole lot different.

Working from home became the necessity. Were we allowed to visit patients? How did we now collaborate for work such as patient case discussions, team meetings, rostering, service development, sharing of information and continuing professional development (CPD)?

Thank goodness for the rollout of Microsoft (MS) Teams and Office 365 (O365). It was a steep learning curve for all but it was generally embraced with fervour. The use of video calls has probably become the most used function of Teams but O365 has many more functions that have yet to be harnessed in both direct patient care and some of the associated work. Here I am going to share how we have used some of these less familiar features.

Which for what?

In the early days of using Teams, knowing how to use it and when to use it was a challenge. In particular, should Teams or email be used? Microsoft describes Teams as “where the work is done” and so, email is best for more formal things beyond your core team and Teams for the day-to-day doing of work. A more detailed explanation is here. However, it is important to adopt some MS Teams etiquette.

In the absence of face-to-face meetings, we have a channel for each of our “pods” where quick messages about the day’s work can be sent, such as “@joe, please can you order me a set of chair raisers?” or “@susan, I’ll meet you at Mrs Blogs at 10am.” Some staff have even chosen to have the mobile app to allow them to get manage these messages easily without having to open their laptop. We also have a channel for professional groups as well e.g. Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists.

Our usage now is shown below for the last 90 days, and it is fair to say that it is pretty prolific and used more than email.

Getting to know your Teams?

Learning how to use Teams was just “in at the deep end” to start, with “super-users” supporting the less confident members of the team. Knowledge grew as resources such as the Office 365 Champions site were shared. Nevertheless, the need for digital to be “central and integral in services to improve outcomes for patients” (Scotland’s Digital Health & Care Strategy) and for increased Digital literacy was becoming more apparent. So how did we find out where everyone was at with their digital skills? We used Teams of course! In fact we used MS Forms within Teams to develop a survey. Some of the results were:

It was clear that we had a large range of skills and work is still ongoing to identify how to best help people develop these skills further.

Resource issues

“Resource folders” have been a mainstay of AHP departments for years to support CPD or as a reference for local services. Fortunately, the days of a ring-binder with photocopies of journal articles and leaflets are maybe fading into the archives, but sharing hyperlinks of websites by email is still widely practised along with files on shared drives, “bookmarking” favourites etc. This may lead to out-of-date information and can be time-consuming to administer.

In our Team, people were sharing these links in Teams posts but they could easily get lost amongst other posts even if the search function was used. A separate channel was one solution, but was there something better?

So I worked with @cslemp at Microsoft to use Power Automate to find a way to create a link collector. Put simply, Power Automate uses the “if this, then that” (IfTTT) idea where there is a trigger and then an action. In our case, the trigger was the sharing of a hyperlink in Teams and the action was to put it into a “Useful Web Resources” tab in our Team. The best way to see how this is to check out the video at https://twitter.com/ChrisPantrey/status/1394583018073899009?s=20

Where is everyone?

Whilst clinical appointments were recorded in our EHCR (EMISWeb), in the base we had planners on the wall of who was on annual leave, others for who was on “duty”, spreadsheets on our shared network drive for our weekend working rota and more! It soon became apparent that this was a real pain point:

We therefore introduced the Shifts app in Teams to manage this. This enabled everyone to see who was in, on leave, on “duty” and so on and also allowed functions for leave requesting too:

I hope this has been a quick introduction to a few of the ways the less familiar features of Teams can be used. As can be seen from the various charts, there is still a lot to do in evaluating and embedding these changes but that’s what improvement change is about.

Please get in touch with your questions or for more details. And share how you have used features of Teams in the comments below, or with me on Twitter (@ChrisPantrey). Let’s spread the word of how Teams can be used to its full potential.


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