NHSScotland has signed a deal with Microsoft to “revolutionise healthcare in the country, in a move that will cut waiting times and improve patient care”, the company said in a statement.
As part of the agreement, NHSScotland will merge more than 100 separate computer systems and give its 161,000 staff access to Office 365 “so they can spend more time focusing on patients”. GPs, consultants and support workers will now be able to communicate on one digital platform, allowing them to share patient information more easily and reduce waiting times.
“In Scotland, we are building a properly joined-up health and social care system,” said Jeane Freeman, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, ” which is much more focused 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.
“That includes developing a new National Digital Platform, setting out common standards and approaches for healthcare systems, so that people can get the best care, regardless of where they are. Moving to Office 365 is a key building-block in that process.”
“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. 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.”
NHSScotland will also move its computer systems to Windows 10 E5, which, said Microsoft, contains security features such as ‘Advanced Threat Protection’. “Its behaviour sensors, security analysis in the cloud and threat intelligence will allow staff to respond to cyber-attacks in near-real-time,” said the company.
The agreement between NHSScotland and Microsoft will run for three years, with the option to extend for a further two years, representing a potential $80m investment by the Scottish Government.
Cindy Rose, chief cxecutive of Microsoft UK, said: “NHSScotland 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.
“Furthermore, by moving to Windows 10 E5, NHSScotland 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.”
The deal comes seven months after the Department of Health and Social Care in England agreed a deal with Microsoft that will enable all NHS organisations to use Windows 10 and strengthen their defence against future cyber-attacks.
More than a third of trusts in the UK were disrupted by the WannaCry ransomware attack last year, according to the National Audit Office, which led to the cancellation of 6,900 appointments.