The Department of Health (DH) has started using a cloud-based collaboration tool Kahootz to work with external groups such as doctors, social care workers and local government staff.
The contract took just two months to set up from start to finish and costs £2.03 per user per month according to its CloudStore listing. It is one of the first major procurements the department has done via G-Cloud, information management lead Sophie Rawlings said.
The service will be used for “external-facing collaboration and communications with stakeholders or partners”, according to Rawlings.
She said: “For example, it will be used by project teams, communities of interests, boards, outside members and policy development groups for things like consultations, surveys, policy work, file sharing, working together on documents and so on.”
DH piloted Kahootz in one of its arm’s length bodies and technical design teams, and will take some time to become fully familiarised with it before rolling it out to the rest of the department from the end of May, Rawlings added.
The Kahootz Enterprise software will replace the department’s legacy IBM Quickr software. It will be open to both the department and various arm’s length bodies such as NHS England, the Care Quality Commission, the NHS Health Research Authority and 20 other agencies, potentially encompassing thousands of users in future.
The advantage of the new solution is that it allows you to pay for what you consume rather than buying a large amount of licences that you may not necessarily use, according to the department’s head of ICT futures and shared services Bob Armstrong.
DH was particularly attracted to the accessibility that the tool offers. Rawlings said: “It’s very important for us at the department. We can’t deliver tools that don’t render in certain browsers or can’t be accessed by mobile devices or accessible tools.”
The department drew up a shortlist of G-Cloud suppliers for the service. Explaining the decision to go with Kahootz in particular, Rawlings said: “Apart from cost, and it was the best value for money by quite a considerable margin , it’s also the richness of the functionality that the tool provides.
“It really is way over and above its competitors. Some provide basic file sharing and discussions but, for example, this also provides database functionality for data capture, reporting, building questionnaires and surveys and so on.”
In January 2012, the department replaced its desktop services via a five year £74 million contract with Atos. However Armstrong said: “Where we can, we’re exploiting G-Cloud for additional services like this [Kahootz].
"Previously we would have gone to our incumbent SI [systems integrator] and got them to do it. Now we’re peeling back the layers, and building it back up again ideally via cloud-based, pay as you go services.”
Looking at the year ahead, Armstrong said that they are working on introducing VoIP [Voice Over IP] and bringing digital telephony into the department. DH is currently considering Microsoft Dynamics for its case management software for Freedom of Information requests, he added.
He said that they are also dealing with various legacy business applications amid the broader move to cloud-based infrastructure.