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The UK Department of Health is overhauling its comms technology

The UK Department of Health is overhauling its comms technology

Department of Health in England and NHS National Services Scotland have selected Accenture and Avanade to implement a range of cloud-based communications service across England and Scotland.

The NHSmail service is being developed and deployed to enable secure communication to users of less secure systems such as non-NHS partners and patients.

“Almost 700,000 doctors, clinicians and other health and care employees already use NHSmail to communicate securely,” said Aimie Chapple, managing director for Accenture’s UK health business.

“The new improved NHSmail service will provide significant digital technology improvements to help NHS staff drive even more effective collaboration at all points of patient care. This will be one of the largest mailbox migrations ever delivered and will bring significant benefits to the way NHS employees exchange information, communicate and interact across healthcare,” she said.

The five-year deal will also see Accenture and Avanade help overhaul the department’s internal email service and deploy other cloud-based communications services across the NHS including an enterprise-wide directory and Microsoft Lync for enabling instant messaging, VOIP, audio and video communication in a bid to enhance collaboration among NHS healthcare workers across the UK.

Over the past few years the NHS has sought to lean more heavily on cloud services in a bid to improve the care services offered to patients and to reduce the cost of provision, though by its own admission it has struggled.

In the NHS’s five year plan released in November 2014 the department said past failures to successfully adopt more robust IT infrastructure and make its digital services more effective is because it hasn’t changed how it procures those technologies and services, which is where the UK government hopes programmes like G-Cloud will play a leading role, and the lack of attention paid to standards.

“Part of why progress has not been as fast as it should have been is that the NHS has oscillated between two opposite approaches to information technology adoption – neither of which now makes sense. At times we have tried highly centralised national procurements and implementations. When they have failed due to lack of local engagement and lack of sensitivity to local circumstances, we have veered to the opposite extreme of ‘letting a thousand flowers bloom’,” the Five Year Forward View reads. “The result has been systems that don’t talk to each other, and a failure to harness the shared benefits that come from interoperable systems.”

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