NHS Scotland has signed a “landmark agreement” with Microsoft that will see its entire estate moved onto Windows 10 over the next three years.
Microsoft Office 365 software will also be deployed across NHS Scotland, meaning all 161,000 employees across the country’s health and care system will have access to the same platform.
NHS Scotland said the agreement would help facilitate ‘a truly joined up NHS’ with greater collaboration across health and social care services, by enabling ‘all staff, from GPs to consultants to support workers, to communicate more effectively across a single digital platform’.
Medical and triage times are expected to fall as a result of the agreement, through which NHS Scotland said it anticipated ‘significant improvements in patient care and patient outcomes’.
NHS Scotland will be moved to Windows 10 E5, the latest version of Microsoft’s enterprise-focused software platform, which features a number of enhanced security and device management capabilities.
Jeane Freeman, Scotland’s cabinet secretary for health and sport, said Scotland was ‘creating the environment and the tools for to allow staff and services to flourish’, an objective it has set out to deliver through the country’s National Digital Platform project, which aims to establish common standards across healthcare systems in Scotland.
Freeman suggested NHS Scotland’s migration to Office 365 was ‘a key building block’ in this process.
“At the moment they are too often hampered by systems that don’t join up or make collaboration easy,” said Freeman.
“We are building a properly joined-up health and social care system, which is much more focussed on getting the right information to the right people at the right time, whether it’s a care professional or an individual managing their own health.
“By consolidating hundreds of separate systems across Scotland’s NHS and care services, we can ensure that our hard-working staff are able to focus more on patients than processes. And at the same time, we have a duty to protect people’s information safely and securely. As part of that, moving to Office 365 is going to make our systems more resilient.”
Financial details of the agreement, which covers a period of three years with the option to extend for a further two, where not disclosed.
Another significant facet of the move to Windows 10 E5 is the enhanced cyber security capabilities it will bring to NHS Scotland infrastructure, including a ‘near real-time’ capability to respond to cyber-attacks.
Earlier this year, the Department for Health and Social Care announced an agreement with Microsoft that will see NHS devices upgraded to Windows 10, in an effort to increase the ability of healthcare organisations to prevent security breaches.
Meanwhile, NHS Digital in February announced plans to integrate NHSmail with Office 365 in an attempt to improve communications within the healthcare service.
Cindy Rose, CEO of Microsoft UK, added: “NHS Scotland staff do incredible work each and every day, however cross-department collaboration can be challenging due to the use of multiple systems. By moving to one common platform in Office 365, staff will have the best tools available to work together seamlessly, ensuring they’re able to focus on what counts most – helping patients.”
“By Windows 10 E5, NHS Scotland can be confident that its systems are running on the most up-to-date software at all times. As a result, the organisation will have a real-time view of any potential cyber threats and can therefore minimise the impact of any cyber-attack across the entire organisation.”
NHS Scotland announced the news during the second day of Microsoft’s Future Decoded event in London, where Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, waxed lyrical about the potential of artificial intelligence in UK healthcare.
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