Andy Bevan, Head of Cloud & Digital Transformation at Daisy, discusses the key features and benefits of Microsoft 365 (M365) and how healthcare practices across the UK are utilising these to provide enhanced patient care and increased collaboration.
Speed is everything in healthcare. And yet, the speed at which the sector has traditionally adopted new innovations in information technology has often lagged behind other sectors. Prior to COVID-19, healthcare’s reputation for technological step changes was often uninspiring. Such is the vast complexity and interconnectivity of the sector’s operations and institutions, and the potential outcome of material disruption so severe, that change was often avoided.
That being said, the pandemic has exposed many of those legacy systems, outdated IT infrastructures and old operating models to a point where the sector had no choice but to transform itself. While there are calls for an injection of technology innovation, many aspects of healthcare could be transformed by an easily attainable, quick ‘365’ degree pivot.
365: an initial consultation
Microsoft 365’s contribution to this transformation effort seems slight but is actually hugely significant.
In short, Microsoft 365 is a bundle of applications including Windows 10, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility & Security. But, delving deeper, these applications are actually cures to many of the administrative ailments that healthcare professionals continue to face.
With best-in-class productivity applications, simple device management and always-on security, Microsoft 365 can improve patient outcomes, simplify collaboration across care teams, enhance both efficiency and quality of care, and furthermore reduce costs by streamlining fragmented workflows.
Keeping more than just people safe
Among Microsoft 365’s numerous benefits, the two that standout most prominently – especially after the events of the past two years – relate to security and communication.
When it comes to security, the healthcare sector is no stranger to cyber-attacks. Indeed, ransomware became synonymous with the sector following the infamous WannaCry attack in 2017 which infected more than a quarter of a million machines across more than 150 countries.
Five years on, the health sector remains the top target for cyberattacks with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) defending an average on 60 attacks per month since September 2019. That said, Microsoft 365’s cybersecurity tools can go a long way towards preventing future attacks.
Microsoft 365 Defender, whether licensed as part of your Microsoft 365 E5, or through the Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) product, provides a unified pre- and post-breach enterprise suite that natively coordinates detection, prevention, investigation, and response across endpoints, identities, email, and applications to provide integrated protection against sophisticated attacks.
Added to these advanced threat protection capabilities, E5 and EMS also enables hospitals to streamline and simplify the management of their remote devices – allowing staff to work in new and flexible ways, maximising their efficiency irrespective of their location or working patterns. Designed to comply with stringent UK health and data regulations, Microsoft 365 Defender comes complete with built-in security protocols that centre around always keeping patients and their data safe.
Finally, adding Microsoft Sentinel, a cloud-based security information and event management (SIEM) and security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) solution, you then have full visibility of your estate using an integrated single solution for attack detection, threat visibility, proactive hunting, and threat response.
‘Viva’ la communication revolution
In addition to productivity, security and management tools, Microsoft 365 also allows for a more seamless level of communication between professionals, both in and outside of an organisation.
The ability to engage with doctors, nurses and specialist staff across the entire healthcare network is one thing. To do so while being able to share files, information and data securely, is a gamechanger for healthcare professionals and patients. This safer, speedier and more effective access to electronic records, via a cloud-based solution, can only further enhance the quality of patient care.
Since the start of the pandemic, Microsoft has also added various features to Microsoft Teams aimed at expanding the use of its collaboration application for frontline workers. Additions include Viva Connections, which is specifically targeted at connecting workers with each other, and their organisation through providing relevant news, conversations, and resources.
Support from ‘digital doctors’
As with any digital intervention, implementation needs to be bespoke, strategic and audited and, of course, focused ongoing care is essential.
Whether there is a need for a smooth introduction of the Microsoft 365 solution or its ongoing security and management, healthcare providers should look for expert assistance, in the same way a patient would consult a nurse or doctor for the most appropriate care.
A specialist partner can offer guidance throughout from pre-assessments to ongoing support, management and advisory services. Indeed, as each Trust’s threat vulnerability management score is often uppermost in the minds of CIOs, using these tools from Microsoft can help contribute to their peace of mind and bring real improvement.
The healthcare sector has spent so much of the past two years helping people through their most challenging times. Now it’s the sector’s turn to consult its own ‘digital doctors’ and adopt Microsoft 365 to aid its own technology recovery.
About the author
As an experienced IT professional with 35 years’ experience, Andy has a proven track record in solution architecture, technical leadership and transformation. Andy has extensive knowledge across the technology spectrum. He has applied this knowledge and his strategic proficiency in all vertical sectors, particularly legal/professional services, finance/financial services, health, public sector organisations, ISV/SaaS and the media. At Daisy, Andy’s leadership ensures that cloud, availability, connectivity, security, and all other facets of the technology infrastructure are mapped to resilience and the future of the organisations we work with as trusted partners.