How hybrid cloud can enable a more efficient transformation of the NHS

18 September 2020

With the health service being put under great strain to try and handle the Coronavirus pandemic, workloads have increased and the pressure has risen to invest in transformation technology. The Government has been trying to digitally transform public services over the last ten years, especially driving for the use of technology within the NHS to improve health and social care for patients in the UK. Progress has been made with the deployment of new technology across the health system, however it’s time that the cloud is fully embraced by the NHS for all its amazing and worthwhile benefits, such as transforming the way services are run using digital solutions. It will also have an instant impact on hosting and transferring applications, systems and data around the NHS. 

Cloud transformation

In 2013 the Cloud First policy was launched by the Government to officially set out a plan to bring cloud technology into the public sector. This in turn would capitalise on benefits such as efficiency and cost reductions. Due to growing awareness and knowledge of cloud technology over the past decade, there’s been a large increase in its usage across the private sector, which can now be seen weaving its way into public sector transformation programmes. 

Digital transformation has been a key focus for the NHS under the Personalised Health & Care 2020 policy. This is a framework designed to innovate the healthcare system, with the aim of improving patient care and outcomes. This is a large scale project that involves swathes of IT infrastructure, hundreds of applications and legacy systems – all while running functional healthcare services and protecting important patient data. 

Finding what fits 

The cloud brings the NHS options to be able to choose the best platforms to fit its hybrid state. It’ll take time to transform the NHS, and there are a number of cloud strategies which could be used. 

A multicloud strategy is often used to indicate the use of ‘multiple’ major public cloud service providers such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS). 

A hybrid cloud strategy uses a mix of cloud platforms such as public cloud, private cloud and in some cases virtualised on-premise. The NHS won’t have to rely on just one public cloud provider as they’ll have a multicloud system, which increases flexibility. In addition to this, hybrid cloud lends itself to the transition state the health system currently finds itself in. By deploying a hybrid strategy, the NHS can choose the right type of cloud platform based on an application or system’s needs.  

Replacing older services with new age, digital solutions, such as applications for the monitoring of patient vital signs, will result in nurses spending less of their precious time using outdated and elongated systems and more doing what it is they do best – providing care for patients. 

Balancing agility and security 

With more technology being introduced by the day, the NHS will need to protect itself from cyber exploitation. One area shouldn’t be compromised because of the other. 

The NHS holds sensitive, confidential and restricted data. Due to this, cyber security needs to be at the top of their priorities to tackle. The NHS was prevented from working to its full capacity when the WannaCry cyberattack occurred in 2017. An incident like this can’t happen again, especially during this critical time. With the cloud, the cybersecurity team can create a list of risk indicators used throughout the NHS to inform the wider cyber strategy. 

New and exciting tech is being deployed as part of the transformation of the NHS, to improve patient services and outcomes, as well as bring cost savings. By deploying a hybrid cloud strategy and agile network, the NHS can realise better integrated risk management, improved scalability and flexibility and ultimately achieve their digital transformation goals.

Agile networks
cloud infrastructure
Hybrid Cloud
Justin Day