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Digital Transformation in the NHS

In 2018, we joined the nation in celebrating the 70-year anniversary of the National Health Service and the work that we as an organisation has done with both healthcare and public sector services over the past 13 years.

So much so in fact that we dedicated our latest quarterly edition of the Intercity Tech magazine towards the transition of the NHS’ systems into the digital age, and whether this will revolutionise the way patients receive healthcare in the future.

More recently, in January 2019 the NHS Long Term Plan was published, outlining the ways in which technology will play a central role in realising the plan.

Chapter 5 came as a particular interest to us, with a core focus around digital technology and its transformation within the NHS over the coming years.

WannaCry attack

When WannaCry hit the UK back in 2017, a minimum of 80 trusts across the UK fell victim, resulting in both NHS and patient downtime. The WannaCry attack led to 19,000 appointments and procedures being cancelled, and it disrupted over one third of trusts in England, so it’s no surprise to see that the healthcare sector is spearheading towards 100% compliance with mandated cyber security standards across all organisations to ensure NHS systems and data are secure.

Moving forward, the NHS have committed to allowing every patient in England to access a digital first, primary care offer, with access to their care plan and communications via the NHS App.

Health and care record platforms linking NHS and local authority organisations with be provisioned, systems to support population health management across Integrated Care Systems will be introduced and an extension of the Child Protection Information System will be embedded to cover all healthcare settings, including general practices.

Chief Research Office for F-Source, Mikko Hypponen, claims that

“NHS trusts across England are currently being pushed to the limit. It’s not surprising that they often don’t have the resources to dedicate 24/7 support to their IT systems.”

Hypponen also questions whether the majority of recent security breaches could have been an unfortunate consequence caused by a result of this.

With the NHS striving towards mainstream, digitally-enabled care across England, trusts now more than ever need to ensure that a robust digital strategy is in place to support this.

In light of the recent cyber-attacks, we reached out to 143 healthcare trusts around securing the future of the NHS, with 80 responding by commenting on the amount of downtime they experienced following a breach (including WannaCry, Locky and Zepto viruses).

Our findings showed that more than 17% of NHS Trusts experienced security-related downtime over the past three years, leading to over 18 days of IT outage, with 14 out of 25 trusts claiming that security breaches have been to root case of their IT outage over recent years.

NHS Digital Transformation

Data and security forms the lifeblood of not just the NHS, but all public sector organisations. In recent years, digital transformation has formed the basis of the local government digital strategy, with government organisations looking to digitise their processes. With a view to the next level of citizen value, organisations are looking to use digital technologies and innovation to transform the way the operate on a day to day basis.

Considering recent pressures of government budgets and cutbacks, public sector organisations are currently facing several challenges with updates and development to their current IT infrastructure, in line with the ever-developing digital sector.

Transformation strategy needs not to be as daunting as it may initially seem – by reviewing and modernising your existing infrastructure, and working with the right service level partner, it will allow for far greater efficiency whilst saving on both time and financial resource.

Summary

Intercity’s focus is, and always has been to transform public sector services and help drive digital transformation through the best use of technology to deliver the most effective outcomes and level of patient care.

By taking the time to understand not just our customers, but the sector in which they operate, it allows us to take a more informed approach to the way we work.

For more information on how Intercity Technology could support your public sector organisation, please contact publicsector@intercity.technology

Up next

Why move to SIP and VoIP from my ISDN and Analogue Lines?

As I am sure you have heard, BT has announced it will be switching off its PSTN and ISDN networks in 2025 with the phase-out starting in 2020. Now is the perfect time to start considering the move from ISDN to SIP and it’s benefit on the bottom line…

Before I move forward with explaining time frames, process and things to consider before the transition from ISDN to SIP, I’ll quickly define these Key acronyms in case you are already lost.

What is ISDN and Analogue?

An analogue line is your old fashioned single voice line that you have at your home which can take one call at a time with very limited functionality, these are still used in smaller businesses and still even across companies such as Halfords Autocentre’s.

An ISDN line has greater capabilities, able to handle up to 30 concurrent calls (if you have an ISDN30) with greater voice quality and a lot more suitable for business purposes.

What is SIP and VoIP?

SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol, and it is the technology that enables your voice traffic (previously carried over physical ISDN and Analogue lines) to be carried over the internet.

VoIP, stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, this is the description for voice traffic travelling via the internet. When you hear the term, VoIP phone system, it means it is compatible with SIP and has the ability to carry voice traffic over the internet. If your phone system is not SIP enabled then this means it is only compatible with ISDN/Analogue lines and you need to look at a new phone system when transitioning over to SIP.

What are the benefits of moving to SIP and VoIP?

You’ll likely save 50% when moving from ISDN to SIP

The way the SIP network has been built by the network carriers it has made the management of the voice network much cheaper to house and run, thus the costs are significantly cheaper. On average companies save 50% due to the line rental being at least half the price per month compared to their ISDN’s as well as the call rates themselves being a lot cheaper than the rates on ISDN and Analogue.

Resilience

One thing which is great about SIP, is that if the roads are dug up, as the council loves to do around this time, then you don’t have to worry about your phone lines being damaged. As SIP is carrying your voice traffic over the internet, your not reliant on physical lines, as long as you have internet, you have voice. A caveat to this, make sure you have resilient connectivity by having a backup connectivity line in place.

Better call quality

As well as increased resilience and cost savings, the calls you are making (as long as you have the correct connectivity) will increase in quality so your calls sound clearer and more professional.

What do I need in place before transitioning ISDN to SIP?

Connectivity

If you haven’t figured it out yet, your calls will be taking up your internet traffic, so if your current bandwidth is sufficient, then you probably need to upgrade. There are a few options:

Upgrade your connectivity to a leased line, for example, to give you plenty of bandwidth for both calls and general internet usage.

Upgrade your connectivity as above and apply QoS (Quality of Service) to ensure that your voice traffic has its own segregated bandwidth so your voice traffic isn’t impacted by any uplifts in your standard internet usage and each has its own limitations.

Use a separate connectivity line for your voice. A lot of companies will simply put a separate line in, an FTTC or Leased Line depending on the number of users and call volume, to ensure that the voice traffic is unhindered.

Phone System

Ensure that your current system has VoIP capability, meaning that it has the capability to manage calls over the internet when you do transition ISDN to SIP. If your phone system is outdated and is limited to ISDN/Analogue, then this is a great opportunity to carry out some discovery work to understand what future functionalities you would like out of your phone system in the coming 5 years plus.

There are a tonne of phone systems out there so you have to think about what you want out of a provider, how you would prefer to pay for it (monthly, one off etc.) and what functionalities you need/want (e.g. contact center, conference calls, system integrations).

Here at Intercity we aim to help find the best option for every business we talk to, whether that is us or another provider. If you would like to talk through your current setup and the options you have then you are more than welcome to contact one of our consultants who will talk you through everything you need to know.