Diagnosing the role of the cloud in the healthcare industry was the theme of yesterday’s THINK Cloud for Health conference at the Business Design Centre in London.

THINK Cloud for Health is centred around the potential for cloud computing in the 21st century health service.  With an increasing and ageing population, the NHS is faced with the challenge of performing with greater economic and operational efficiency.

The event featured sessions on building a technology-empowered NHS: the role of the cloud, personal health budget action plans, why the cloud should be prescribed, the paperless NHS, sourcing the cloud, the G-Cloud NHS story and more.

Shaun Jeffery, IT Services Programme Manager at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, along with James Matthews, Director of Enterprise Technology at Huddle presented an interesting use case of how cloud collaboration is being applied in the healthcare sector.

Shaun is responsible for establishing the programme office, which has realised the vision created by Chelsea and Westminster and the Royal Marsden to deliver an IT shared service provider for Foundation Trusts within London. In March 2015, when the company starts trading in its own right, Shaun will take up the role of Business Manager for SPHERE (Systems Powering Healthcare). The ethos of SPHERE is firmly based on a collaborative approach and the programme office, together with the new company domain, are entirely cloud hosted.  The strategy roadmap currently includes shared corporate storage, cloud hosted data centres and large scale virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) delivery.

The SPHERE team was faced with the challenge of getting parties internally and externally to collaborate effectively in order to increase efficiency. Not having an office for the first six months was an additional hurdle and one of the main reasons a cloud collaboration service was at the top of the agenda to get the SPHERE project up and running.  During the presentation, Shaun outlined how the team have had to collaborate with private bid partners, legal firms, finance departments, IT departments and more. Due to the government’s Cloud First initiative, Huddle seemed like a fitting solution. Shaun explains:

“We wanted an online service and Huddle’s IL2 security accreditation was a factor in the decision making process.”

Another factor Shaun pointed out was that choosing Huddle made financial sense and the overheads of choosing Huddle, as opposed to provisioning data centres, were around half.

James finished the session off by speaking about industry trends and how attitudes towards cloud adoption are changing. A key trend is the movement towards a greater understanding of data security. James also highlighted that, although the cloud collaboration market is heavily saturated and there’s currently a survival of the fittest competition, the future might see more partnerships forming between vendors, which was a topic covered in the Q and A session.

With the rapid digitalization of everything, consumer IT is changing and directly impacting healthcare services, so this is definitely a space to watch in 2015!

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