A new deal with Microsoft to supply its digital tools to hospitals and medical services across England will save hundreds of millions of pounds, the NHS has said.
As many as 1.2 million staff across the NHS will gain access to the tech giant’s productivity and collaboration apps, in a move designed to ease the administrative burden on doctors and nurses.
The health service said the move will create a “truly joined-up NHS”, allowing various organisations within the system to work more seamlessly together.
Microsoft 365 includes its instant messaging and calling platform Microsoft Teams, which has already been used more widely by workers since the coronavirus pandemic began.
The deal between the tech firm, NHSX – the health service’s innovation arm – and NHS Digital “guarantees significant cost savings for both individual NHS organisations and the NHS as a whole”, the NHS said.
“Adopting the most up-to-date digital tools and operating systems are crucial for a modern-day NHS – allowing staff to work as efficiently as possible, which will deliver even better care for patients,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
“We have seen incredible, innovative uses of technology throughout the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic and this new deal with Microsoft will pave the way for that to continue by ensuring we get the basics right.”
It follows an agreement in 2018 between the pair, when Microsoft provided greater protection from cyber attacks, in response to the WannaCry ransomware which crippled computer systems in several NHS trusts the previous year.
NHS organisations that have already made their own arrangements with Microsoft will benefit from the new contract.
“Since Covid-19, the NHS has rapidly accelerated its adoption of digital tools to enable clinicians and support staff to perform their life-saving work more effectively,” said Cindy Rose, chief executive of Microsoft UK.
“This agreement ensures NHS organisations across England have access to modern productivity tools and solutions necessary to delivering better patient outcomes now and in the future.”