How the NHS is embracing cloud technology to transform healthcare

Posted on 28/05/2019
DISCLAIMER: this article is older than one year and may not be up to date with recent events or newly available information.

By Louise Fellows, Director, Public Sector VMware UKI

In my role as a leader within the public sector, and from my many years of experience in tech, I’m passionate about the role IT can play in creating a healthier, more sustainable and better world for everyone. Building more responsive and intelligent public services is a key part of that journey.

That’s why I, like many others, am fascinated by the journey of digital transformation that the NHS is navigating. And these are exciting times! Last year the government pledged £487 million to help the NHS invest in digital technology and earlier this year published the NHS Long Term Plan which outlines an ambitious roadmap to a digitally-enabled health service. The vision is for a model of care very different from today – where most patients have straightforward, digital access to NHS services that empowers them to manage their health, and where clinicians are supported by digital tools ensuring access to patient records and care plans wherever they are without any administrative hassles.

This is where the power of the cloud comes in – it is absolutely fundamental to enabling this service transformation. The cloud is critical to the delivery of mobile and web-based health services and apps, to the secure and compliant management of patient data, to helping healthcare providers make the best treatment decisions, and also to bringing cost efficiencies to the NHS.

One example of how the NHS is embracing the cloud is the work that NHS Digital is undertaking. It is the national information and technology partner for the UK’s health and care system and a firm believer that the cloud can bring flexibility and cost efficiency benefits to organisations across the NHS while still maintaining privacy, security, and compliance. It has adopted a cloud-first, multi-cloud approach, giving it the flexibility to select the right cloud for each workload.

A long-standing user of VMware on-premise, NHS Digital also has significant usage of public clouds from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. It has recently made the hybrid cloud solution VMware Cloud on AWS (which brings together the best of the VMware and AWS environments) available to NHS and UK public sector organisations. This has enabled it to create a new commercial model and act as a single cloud service broker. This model will enable more NHS Trusts to harness the benefits of the cloud while providing better economies of scale to the NHS. NHS Digital ultimately intends to migrate most of its services from its on-premises environment leveraging VMware Cloud on AWS, AWS and Azure

“The uptake of digital services in the NHS is accelerating so the NHS and social care’s IT backbone must be up to the job. With VMware Cloud on AWS, we’re providing a resilient platform to support digitally-enabled care today and in the future. We now have a commercial framework in place to enable NHS and public-sector organizations to confidently use the cloud. Together we can benefit from the economies of scale and cost efficiencies of this model,” said Rob Shaw, Deputy Chief Executive, NHS Digital.

As the use of cloud computing matures in the NHS, I anticipate it will unlock a new wave of innovation, especially from areas like IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data. These solutions will generate a wealth of new, enriched data, and the potential to deliver new insights to improve health outcomes and reduce costs. It will fundamentally change the NHS and healthcare in the UK, and it will all be underpinned by the cloud.

Read the press release here.


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