The year 2020: What's the 'right' technology for the NHS to be investing in?

Scott Murphy, director of cloud and advanced solutions at Ingram Micro, believes cloud services offer benefits that address many of the challenges healthcare organisations currently face

Cloud computing offers a safe and secure way to digitise NHS services and create efficiencies

The NHS is facing a difficult time.

The combination of an ageing population, rising costs, and legacy technology provide significant and complex challenges.

In addition, staff shortages continue to plague the industry, stretching a workforce which is under pressure to deliver.

And patients are more knowledgeable of their health conditions and healthcare possibilities, so will demand more.

They not only care about the treatment of diseases, but also have a high expectation regarding the effectiveness of prevention, public health, personal care, convenience, efficient processing of their medication, and appointments.

Tackling the problem with the right solution

Technology could be the answer to bolstering a troubled NHS.

A PwC report found that investment in the right technology could deliver net benefits between £8billion-£13billion by 2021.

Modern technologies can help to make healthcare services less expensive, more efficient, and more accessible.

However, with so many solutions on the market, the question remains: what counts as the ‘right’ solutions?

This can be a difficult question to answer.

Any new solution must be easy to use, integrate with existing technologies, and not introduce friction to processes. If it does not tick these boxes, there is a risk that medical staff will use unsanctioned workarounds, putting patient data at risk

In addition to suiting the intended purpose, any solution implemented must be secure.

Patient data is valuable to cyber criminals, making healthcare organisations a target for attacks.

And, as the safety of patient data is critical, solutions must ensure that patient data is stored, transferred and processed with minimal risk. This becomes more complicated as medical staff involved in one patient’s care can be distributed across different regions or even countries.

Scott Murphy

Choosing the ‘right’ solution requires an understanding of the software in place and the areas for improvement.

Technology already plays an important role in the healthcare sector and is central to processes.

From document management to scheduling appointments, to the medical equipment itself; technology solutions support medical staff in providing a high-quality service to a discerning public.

And cloud services offer the security and reliability that the healthcare sector needs

As challenges mount, and demand grows, cloud services could be the answer to improving efficiencies and meeting needs.

Cloud computing offers the security, agility, scalability that the healthcare industry needs when faced with a population who need more medical interventions and are more knowledgeable

NHS Digital recently declared public cloud services to be a safe location for healthcare providers to store confidential patient information, provided certain data sovereignty conditions are met.

The NHS also issued official guidelines to help healthcare and social care organisations move data safely and securely from on-site servers to cloud services.

Healthcare providers are able to deploy services quickly without large upfront capital expenses. And they have better flexibility on IT spending as cloud computing is an on-demand service. Additionally, it reduces the IT team’s workload as maintaining the cloud platform or infrastructure is not required.

Cloud computing, together with mobile infrastructure, can provide reliable, easy-to-use clinician-to-clinical communication channels.

Clinicians will be able to collaborate and co-ordinate patient care, thus improving the care delivery process and reducing costs through efficiencies.

Cloud computing’s comprehensive back-up and fast system recovery features reduce the risk of health information not being available due to local hardware failure.

Breaking the barriers to entry

However, outdated legacy systems and existing culture can represent significant barriers to new technology, even when it is clear that these solutions are better suited to the needs of medical personnel and patients.

Any new solution must be easy to use, integrate with existing technologies, and not introduce friction to processes. If it does not tick these boxes, there is a risk that medical staff will use unsanctioned workarounds, putting patient data at risk.

Cloud solutions meet these needs and provide the added advantage of increasing accessibility, regardless of location. There is also an increased ability to scale to accommodate more devices and software.

To mitigate the challenges the NHS will face, it is important to invest in the most-appropriate technology to bolster and improve processes.

The outcome will be a more-efficient, transparent and holistic service, which meets the increasing expectations of both patients and healthcare staff.

Cloud computing offers the security, agility, scalability that the healthcare industry needs when faced with a population who need more medical interventions and are more knowledgeable.

In addition, it offers security features which help to keep patient data safe from cyber criminals.

Overall, moving to a cloud model will reduce risk and improve the quality of care.

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