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NHS is moving to the cloud with Microsoft

By Microsoft on July 28, 2017

Filed under Health


Darren McKenna: To be honest, when you look at the cloud, you should consider the same things you should really consider on-premise so is it secure, is the data residency where you need it, is it available? And you really go through the same process and you should come up with the right answer.

Dr. Michael Brookes: There are benefits on the clinical side; there’s benefits on the IT side of using cloud versus on-premises. First up, the cloud systems, they are newer, so they take advantage of new technologies. They’ve got new features, mean that the clinicians find them easier to use. They’re more up to date. They fit more closely with what the clinicians are doing.

Joanna Smith: Clinicians will come along and say, we need a new device. This device comes from a vendor. They’re saying they want some software, you know, can you give us a service, so they can install their software, so my nice new clever diagnostic equipment will now work. Once upon a time, we were the ones with all of the barriers and the problems. Now, we can just kind of say, yep, no problem, give us the spec; we’ll spin it up, hand it over to the vendor and off you go.

Brookes: And then, of course, there’s the cybersecurity side of things. Vendor was able to demonstrate that because it was cloud based and it focused on one system, it applied patches in a timely manner, usually within 24 hours, and it had the relevant firewall protection, the relevant anti-virus on the servers.

Amy Freeman: So, Mid Cheshire Hospitals are really comfortable in using Microsoft Azure for the delivery of our project. The project does deliver patient identifiable data to district nurses whilst they’re out and about. We use Azure two-factor authentication to make sure that those staff who are working outside of our corporate network have to identify two bits of key information before they can access the system. And that coupled with our risk assessment we’re assured that the data is safe and will only fall into the hands of those who need it.

Smith: So, as we started on our move towards the cloud, obviously, the first thing I had to understand was the IG issues, patient identifiable data, and what that meant. It became quite clear quite quickly that there were legal situations that influenced this and I worked with legal counsel to be very clear what was a legal defendable position. I then took that through our SIRO and our IG committee. I took it to other exec committees and the committees then were comfortable that once they understood the legal implications and that we were defendable, they were comfortable we should do that. So, actually, IG was not a specific issue. It was just about understanding the law.

I think we delude ourselves if we think that we can possibly be more secure than large cloud providers, and I think the risk of moving to large cloud providers versus the risk of doing it ourselves is a no competition. It’s a no-brainer.

Freeman: But the use of cloud, particularly through Microsoft is the transparency of how much you pay. It’s very easy to identify what your costs are going to be before project even starts. You can give very accurate costs. And if your requirements change, you can flex up and flex down as you see fit. And that’s been a real eye opener for us and the ability to turn services off when you’re not using them and save even more funding is great.

Brookes: So, no upfront costs or very little upfront costs compared to on-premises and so much of the maintenance work is done for you. Big benefits for IT.

James Rawlinson: So, we’re using at the moment, predominantly, Power BI, which is the visualization analytics capability. And our decision to start using that product was A) we covered the security piece, but also the ability to very, very, very quickly fire up analytics capabilities and share that with people in our organization across without having to invest massively on internal systems and tin.

It’s a big seller for us. The commercials added up and the ability to do things very, very quickly makes it a great product at the moment.

Smith: So, the biggest challenges I’ve had introducing the sort of cloud first initiative in my trust is actually, essentially, from within the IT organization itself. It’s not been getting support from clinicians. It’s not been getting support from the boards. This was signed off as our strategy in 2014. It’s actually about helping our team come on the journey, not feel afraid, wanting to embrace the technology. And we’ve probably not engaged them as much as we should’ve done because we’ve probably used too many contract resources in order to progress quickly. And I think my recommendation if I did it all again, would be I would take my team out of their day jobs. I would backfill them and then I would augment them with expert resources and I’d have them doing the work all the way from the start.

Dr. Joe McDonald: As a mental health practitioner, I’m not like the other doctors; I don’t need to put my hands on you. That means mental health can be practiced online. And in my vision, I’m able to project a consultant psychiatrist with specialist knowledge into any situation in any scenario— into the back of a police car, into a police cell, into a third world country. And that’s the vision that we have at NTW that we’re going to try and deliver.

Suzy Foster: Aside from the customer stories we’ve heard today, there are so many more that we haven’t heard about. And I’d really encourage all our customers to think about what they’re doing, what’s going on in their organizations, what they’d like to achieve, and how we can work with them to make that happen.

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