Anyone interested in the progress of England's 209 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) will have found it hard to ignore the sheer volume of negative headlines they seem to have generated in recent months. Almost every day brings a fresh report of a CCG that lacks the financial stability or clinical capacity - or both - to serve its local community.
Of course, this coverage simply reflects the deeply challenging environment in which the groups, along with every other NHS organisation, must operate. For this reason it cannot be dismissed, but it's also important that in following CCGs' day-to-day operations so closely and placing the fine details of delivery under constant scrutiny, public sector leaders do not overlook the frequent examples of genuine innovation demonstrated by CCGs around the country.
It can sometimes seem as if innovation, when it is achieved by CCGs, is almost taken for granted. Failings and financial troubles are widely reported, but the coverage of successful projects or outcomes is often decidedly muted. This is perhaps unsurprising when we consider that CCGs were created in 2013 with innovation at their heart - the flagship of the coalition government's NHS reforms, they represent one of the biggest examples of healthcare restructuring in England for decades. Why, then, should we shout about it when they manage to achieve what they set out to do?
However, it's also important to remember that delivering innovation within an established organisation is always challenging, and there are particular obstacles to consider in an organisation as vast and complex as the NHS. Simon Bird, managing consultant at Hay Group, identified this factor in a Health Service Journal article back in June 2012. He noted that people working in the NHS "experience first-hand the tension around delivery, which emerges when the desire to get things done quickly and efficiently (and often how they have been done before) comes up against the chance to experiment".
New ways of working
So it's our belief that successful innovation within CCGs should be celebrated. In addition, healthcare leaders need to retain their focus on creating an environment where it can flourish. In his article for HSJ, Bird recommended a focus on diversity and difference in order to "bring [in] alternative perspectives and challenge the system".
This is undoubtedly a key factor in encouraging innovative thinking, but it's only one piece of the puzzle. At Kahootz, we're particularly interested in the technology that supports CCG innovators - the tools they use to communicate, collaborate and create new ways of working. Increasingly, the cloud is emerging as a cost-effective solution to the myriad challenges they face. It can also help to deliver innovation by enabling a wide network of healthcare professionals to share information and hold discussions quickly, easily and securely in an online workspace.
For more about cloud collaboration and innovation within CCGs, download our free guide CCGs in 2015: How cloud collaboration can meet your 5 biggest challenges.