The Department of Health and Social Care receives some 50,000 enquiries each year—how can the department ensure that all citizens and MPs who write in get a swift, detailed response?
Working with IBM® Services, the Department of Health and Social Care transformed correspondence management, harnessing cloud-based Microsoft Dynamics software.
Enablesbatch processing of correspondence, helping to save time
Putsthe department in a strong position to continue meeting its SLAs
Business challenge story
Providing vital communication
Transparency and accountability are essential ingredients for fair and effective governance. So, when citizens, politicians, and organizations request information from ministerial departments, it is essential that they receive rapid, accurate responses.
Responsible for shaping policy on health and care across the nation, the UK Government’s Department for Health and Social Care receives approximately 50,000 items of correspondence each year. Communication arrives in a range of formats, including formal Freedom of Information requests, messages from the general public, and enquiries from members of parliament. However an enquiry arrives, the department must process it and respond appropriately.
In many cases, the Department of Health and Social Care must meet specific service-level agreements (SLAs) regarding the time taken to respond to different types of messages. For instance, organizations are legally required to respond to Freedom of Information requests within 20 working days, and failure to meet this target can cause reputational damage and ultimately lead to investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
The Department of Health and Social Care is already widely respected as one of the highest performing government departments for public and parliamentary work. In particular, the department regularly answers 100% of its parliamentary questions on time. However, the department doesn’t rest on its laurels. As part of a broader initiative to embrace digital transformation across government, the department began to investigate ways that it could utilize technology to improve the efficiency of correspondence management.
In the past, the Department of Health and Social Care managed correspondence processes using a bespoke system. The existing system was unable to perform batch processing for large numbers of cases. In addition, Department of Health and Social Care wanted to improve the process for scanning and logging hard-copy correspondence.
To ensure that it could continue to provide high-quality service and transparency to members of the public and parliament, the Department of Health and Social Care set out to find a better way to manage correspondence.
Finding the right fit
The Department of Health and Social Care decided to replace its bespoke system with the cloud-based Microsoft Dynamics 365 solution to support correspondence management. One of the advantages of choosing Microsoft Dynamics 365 was the flexibility to integrate the platform with other third-party solutions. In addition, Microsoft Dynamics 365 is delivered on the Microsoft cloud, so the Department of Health and Social Care’s internal IT team does not need to maintain it in-house. The department upgrades the solution each year to continue taking advantage of the latest functionalities as they emerge.
For support during the deployment, the Department of Health and Social Care engaged IBM Services. The IBM Services team helped the Department of Health and Social Care replace its bespoke system with Microsoft Dynamics 365, and integrate Microsoft Dynamics 365 with the department’s existing Microsoft SharePoint platform. After the initial go-live, IBM Services helped the Department of Health and Social Care introduce new functionality for Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Nick Rees, Correspondence Product Manager at Department of Health and Social Care, says: “We worked closely with IBM on the deployment of Microsoft Dynamics 365, and we have established a positive relationship with the IBM team. Whenever we encounter issues or require technical support to achieve development goals, IBM are always keen to help.”
In addition to helping the Department of Health and Social Care implement Microsoft Dynamics 365, IBM Services worked with the department to streamline existing processes and simplify workflows. As part of this work, the Department of Health and Social Care introduced a new ‘scan to case’ solution, which enables staff to scan paper-based correspondence and automatically upload the digitized documents to Microsoft SharePoint, ready for use in Microsoft Dynamics and other business applications.
IBM is also assisting the department with the development of an application that will enable ministers to approve key documents on the go using their mobile devices.
Promoting efficient working
With the Microsoft Dynamics 365 solution deployed by IBM, the Department of Health and Social Care is promoting efficient correspondence management. For example, the department has gained the ability to process and edit correspondence in batches, instead of having to handle each item individually – saving time.
Nick Rees adds: “Similarly, the scan to case application delivered by IBM has made the process of inputting hard copy correspondence into our systems more efficient. Now that we can scan documents directly into Microsoft SharePoint, where they are automatically integrated with Microsoft Dynamics, staff no longer need to spend time uploading, saving, finding and transferring files between folders and systems.”
By introducing new ways to help staff manage correspondence more efficiently, the department is in a strong position to continue its excellent track record of responding promptly to enquiries. As a next stage, the Department of Health and Social Care is currently working with IBM to integrate business-intelligence capabilities that will help it to gain new insights into SLA targets.
About Department of Health & Social Care
The Department of Health and Social Care helps people to live better for longer. It leads, shapes and funds health and social care in England, making sure people have the support, care and treatment they need, with the compassion, respect and dignity they deserve.
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