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NHS improves systems integration for all staff

by Valeria Fiore
19 February 2018

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NHS England employees will be able to quickly share information across different NHS bodies, following NHS Digital’s plans announced today.

Anyone with an NHSmail account will be able to benefit from the integrated services.

NHS Digital hopes to allow NHS staff to better communicate with each other by integrating NHSmail, which uses Microsoft Exchange and Skype for Business to securely exchange patient information, with Office 365.

Employees will have access to a series of applications and services integrated with Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), once the NHSmail directory is synchronised with Azure AD by end of April.

NHS Digital will later integrate service with Office 365 (O365) by August.

A spokesperson for NHS Digital said: ‘We will be publishing additional guidance nearer to the general availability date (August 2018). 

‘Organisations wishing to use the NHSmail/O365 Hybrid will need a valid O365 license subscription which will need to be purchased locally. The organisation’s NHSmail local administrator will be able to grant access once Hybrid has been delivered.’

The plans are set to improve the way health and care organisations share their information and will make everybody’s job easier, according to NHS Digital.

Service director for NHS Digital Neil Bennett said: ‘This synchronisation of NHSmail to Azure AD and integration with O365 is part of our long-term vision to bring about greater collaboration across the wider health and care system.

‘Ultimately it will enable NHS staff to access multiple applications and services using their NHSmail user name and password which makes their job easier.’

According to recently published guidelines on offshoring data and the use of public cloud services, O365 services will be hosted in the EU or US data centres.

The plans were revealed after NHS Digital signed a deal with Microsoft last month to improve cyber security.

NHS Digital said users are not to expect increases in costs following the synchronisation process and they will continue to access NHSmail in the same way as they have done until now.