It’s an exciting time to be working with the NHS. In autumn last year, NHS England’s Five Year Forward View started to galvanise and inspire front line clinicians and senior executives alike.

 

The View outlines a vision for the NHS built on flexibility, integration and efficiency. The idea of diverse teams of colleagues collaborating across specialities, geographies and organisations is critical. In many respects, it’s an entirely new way of working that underpins fundamental NHS service evolution.

 

It’s all about collaboration. But the only way to collaborate on the scale the NHS needs is to use cloud computing platforms. And cloud services represent a huge cultural shift for any public sector organization.

 

So, to help our NHS customers facilitate and enable the new ways of working advocated by the View, we decided to work with Dods to map the attitudes of more than 2,000 NHS staff towards cloud computing, data security and key government initiatives.

 

The results are simultaneously fascinating, concerning and instructive. I can’t possibly go through everything in one blog post, so I invite you to download our study “Meeting the Digital Challenge: How Well is the NHS Embracing Cloud Computing?” Here, I’ll focus on a couple of the major findings: the difficulty NHS staff are having adapting to changing ways of working and inconsistencies in NHS employee approaches to data security.

 

Difficulty adapting to changing ways of working:

Only 66 percent of NHS staff are aware of cloud computing (the lowest amongst the public sector) and just half that number are confident using cloud services. A smaller, but still significant number (27 percent) are not confident in cloud computing, with a whopping 36 percent having never used it.

 

When looking at the perceived barriers to cloud adoption in the NHS, employees highlight security concerns (81 percent), the time and effort to switch (74 percent) and a lack of expertise to install systems (72 percent).

 

But this is an organization where 96 percent of its staff share information amongst internal and external teams as part of their work – even more than in the private sector. The NHS’s lack of experience with, and confidence in, cloud computing is undermining its own ability to evolve. Without change, the NHS risks being locked into inefficient, insecure and out-dated working practices, putting the Five Year Forward View at risk.

 

Inconsistencies in NHS data security:

NHS staff are the most security conscious group in the public sector - 87 percent of employees view the security of their organization’s information as ‘very important’. Unfortunately, this conscientiousness does not always inform behavior.

 

For example, the way in which ‘collaboration’ happens in the NHS today is anachronistic –

47 percent of NHS employees print hard copies and post it to people they’re working with. 25 percent use couriers to deliver physical documents and 20 percent rely on USB drives. This kind of behavior is inefficient, expensive, unsecure and at odds with the working practices advocated by the View.

 

Furthermore, within NHS IT departments, fewer than one in five respondents are aware of the government’s ‘new’ security classification system that was launched over a year ago. This is a flagship government information security initiative that is receiving little attention from the NHS. And if you think that’s bad, you should see the problems besetting the G-cloud initiative in the NHS. 79 percent of NHS IT staff are not aware of G-Cloud and only 5 percent of IT respondents have purchased via G-Cloud.

 

Getting More NHS Heads in the Cloud

The study provides an ‘action plan’ for NHS executives and IT leaders to help them address the challenges they face. The plan includes:

 

  1. Building awareness and confidence in cloud computing by demonstrating relevance and cracking down on protectionist behaviour by IT departments
  2. Complying with the new security classification system by interpreting Cabinet

Office guidance and using pre-certified commercial collaboration platforms

  1. Embracing G-cloud and working with SMEs in a way that helps boost user confidence in cloud platforms

 

We’ve always said that moving to the cloud is a cultural, not a technological evolution. And yes, the situation is challenging, but it is far from hopeless.

 

As I said at the start, it’s an exciting time to be working with the NHS. Its executives and IT leaders are in the driving seat. If they proactively engage with the issues unearthed by our research, they can push forward huge positive change and play a major role in achieving the ambitious targets set out in the View.

 

To read the full report, visit https://www.huddle.com/resources/whitepapers/dods-nhs/

 

 

Mike Hayward

EMEA Head of Public Sector


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