Using Microsoft SharePoint to Support Evidence Based Public Health in Lincolnshire

Joanne Phillips
Assistant Knowledge Officer, Public Health Intelligence Team, Lincolnshire County Council

Public Health staff in Lincolnshire County Council are served by a small, in-house Library, Information and Knowledge Service provided by two Knowledge Officers, both qualified Librarians, who sit within a larger Public Health Intelligence Team and offer on demand literature searching alongside a portfolio of regular current awareness resources. 

From March 2020 all departmental staff were working from home, and consequently we could no longer hold our Journal Club, face-to-face CPD training, or inductions for trainee Public Health Registrars and new staff. Previous feedback had highlighted a need to find a way to more effectively share Knowledge Officer output, including current awareness bulletins and guides to searching for evidence.  At the same time there was a corporate roll out of Microsoft Teams. The wiki function, which is part of this application, provided the kernel of an idea to provide a repository for our output and other useful information.

The root concept of our SharePoint was a Wiki that we developed in Microsoft Teams, which initially focussed primarily on COVID-19 resources and data.  We found that whilst useful as a repository, this was limited by restricted access beyond a specified group of staff, and the very functional presentation. However one distinct advantage of the Wiki was that we were able to supply real time horizon scanning updates to build on literature searches, in this case the emerging body of evidence on NHS recovery post COVID-19, and Mental Health research in the context of COVID-19. Furthermore these documents could act as discussion documents.  Researching the wider use of MS Teams we discovered the SharePoint application allowed greater and controlled accessibility, as well an opportunity to present information more creatively. Building the SharePoint site has been a learning experience; the application was new and therefore corporate experience was limited. We found that the online guidance was very clear and easy to follow, plus as a Microsoft Office based application prior IT skills meant that most of the functions of building and editing the site were intuitive.

The information resources we included are a combination of regular outputs such as Current Awareness updates, our Netvibes resources and our in-house ‘Virtual Evidence Library’ – a simple spread sheet of websites identified during literature searches, classified by broad Public Health and Social Care themes. Having found that using online facetime inductions proved of limited value, it was decided to add guides that would aid the induction process. These guides include critical appraisal, data analysis, evidence searching, registering for OpenAthens accounts and guides to using MS Teams.  It then became part of the process to signpost our inductees to SharePoint where all the resources they need to consolidate their induction are available.

Updating material is a simple process of overwriting old versions of documents with new. Once a SharePoint site has been created, adding new items is a relatively simple process so the staff time to maintain the site is minimal with very little training required. The scope to update and add new information is ongoing, for example we are adding links to selected external sources of information.

Public facing Sharepoint page

We have also been involved in the development of two further SharePoint sites; COVID-19 Outbreak Management, which houses the Lincolnshire County Council’s resources for managing outbreaks in the community, and COVID-19 Public Health Resources which is a data repository.

HLG Newsletter
Winter 2020

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