In line with other public sector organisations, the NHS is required to make savings over the next few years. In total, these savings will amount to approximately £20Bn and are expected not to come from front line services, but rather to be found in rationalisation and efficiency savings across the board.
One way in which Acute Trusts and Mental Health Trusts are seeking to meet this challenge is to undertake Estates Rationalisation Programmes. Many organisations have a number of sites which are extremely expensive to run and are often providing limited services which can be carried out better in the community or linked with other NHS delivery to bring efficiencies.
For example, at some Trusts Community Nurses are based at a site where they have to attend each morning to log in to systems and collect their workload before setting off to see patients. At the end of the day, the clinician is required to return to the site to input the results of each clinical session undertaken, as well as ordering any follow ups required. This seriously impacts on the total time available to clinicians to meet with patients.
Technology can help. By making clinical systems accessible over mobile and wireless technologies in a completely secure and safe manner ensures that the clinician is able to access notes and patient details at the point of care. In the case of areas where mobile and wireless coverage is far from perfect (anything from rural areas to city centre housing estates and high rise blocks for example) systems can be made available in an “offline” mode. In this mode, the clinician still has access to information which is at most 24-48 hours out of date, but still very relevant to the patient.
The ability of these mobile clinicians not to have to come in to a “base” on a daily basis will reduce the amount of wasted time in travelling, and will increase total clinician-patient face time on a daily basis.
But Trusts need to think carefully about how this is achieved. Requirements of the Data Protection Act, the underlying principles of Caldicott and other NHS specific regulations around patient data security cannot be dismissed. The ICO (Information Commissioners Office) has been fining NHS organisations large sums for the loss of data, and so Trusts must ensure that data is fully secured both at rest and in transit.
Solutions will need to ensure that mobile devices (including BYOD devices) are properly secured and can be centrally managed – including full remote locking and remote wipe. In the case of clinical information, there is a requirement that the information is encrypted at all times. Furthermore, IT Directors and CIOs will have to ensure that such solutions are not open to “screen scraping” technologies.
But it is not only the information which needs to be secure. We also need to secure our staff. Clinicians are already vulnerable when out working in the community. Some are seen as targets for FP10 forms (prescriptions) or for possible drugs they may be carrying. Others invite attack simply for being a clinician. Equipping these staff with expensive mobile devices may increase the risk of muggings etc.
To prevent this, Trusts must employ strong lone worker solutions. A number of these are available ranging from solutions which are manual – based on mobile phone usage – to technically adept solutions which track locations (GPS) and have two way radio built into them which can be operated without patients/citizens being made aware. This then allows an emergency call centre to listen in to the situation and summon the appropriate assistance. The small costs of such systems and the decreasing costs of mobile solutions is quickly saved in the ability of organisations to reduce their estates footprint and to treat more patients in a shorter time.
But a word of warning. It is easy for CIOs and IT Directors to over-promise ROIs and perceived benefits of such systems. Any such implementation should be done in a phased approach allowing impact on services and savings to be correctly measured and monitored before a whole systems roll out. There are issues around ICT training, availability of hardware and solutions, security and even clinical adoption which need to be carefully ironed out before any programme is initiated. And one of the major reasons for failure of IT Programmes in the NHS? Clinician Engagement – the Trust must ensure that key clinicians who represent their areas are involved in the design and build of any mobile solution.
As an IT person, I can design a technical solution which will best meet the technical need – I cannot design a solution to be used in clinical areas without clinical input. I will only look at the technology, I need the clinicians to tell me how they work to ensure that workflows are logical to the use cases. Running a Proof of Concept with a partner of choice who is technology and vendor agnostic will allow Trusts to mix and match all solutions available to find the best approach for their specific clinical and business needs. Not all mobility solutions are the same, and not all security solutions are designed with the mobile workforce in mind. Overall, Trusts need to ensure that they select the right partner who is able to work closely with them to assist them in achieving their goals.
It looks like the BYOD term has been knocked off its perch (well for a short period at least) as the hottest term around – the big story is now “the Wireless LAN”.
In recent years every mobility or BYOD discussion resulted in a “to MDM or not MDM” debate with the consensus MDM was a must have technology (whether it delivered all of the outcomes originally promised is the discussion of a future blog). However as we fast forward through the start of 2013 the BYOD topic now starts and ends with a debate about “wireless networking effectiveness”. In the time before the “mobility wave” the wireless LAN most commonly experienced by the corporate end user was a home based network of convenience deployed with simplicity in mind but often lacking in reliability.
But how things have changed, what was a useful add-on to the physical RJ45 cable based corporate LAN environment has now become the talk of the CIO agenda and potentially the bane of many CIOs lives. That same wireless network used by guests, learned end users (who knew how to sneak the secret passwords) and the handful of approved laptop users is fast becoming the defacto connectivity environment for most end users. Where is the RJ45 port on a tablet computer, or modern Smartphone – does anyone care? Why embrace the inflexibility of laptop use tethered via the physical RJ45 network port when it becomes free and supremely flexible when connected via a high performing wireless network environment. The behaviour of many of us in both personal and professional arenas toward wireless connectivity has changed. In previous years, the IT aware individual within a household configured and used the home wireless network due to awareness of it at work – now the generation Y/Z digital natives not only own the home wireless network for social, education and entertainment ideals, but equally expect it to exist all the time everywhere.
Searching for a wireless hotspot is a teenage norm and second nature to all due to the ubiquitous use of smart phones, tablets, hand held games consoles and all fundamental to a digital native personal or social existence. But it doesn’t stop there, the behaviour outlined previously synonymous with a generation Y/Z persona now exists within us all, from the seven year old expecting the ipad to connect to download the latest update to “Temple Run”, to the corporate professional checking into a hotel on business uttering those now all too common words at reception “what is the key for the wireless network”. Do you ever remember the physical network deemed so fundamental to our work/home existence as the wireless network is today – it actually was, but in our minds it “wasn’t” and their lies the hypnotic magic of the wireless or WIFI network. This blog homes in on WIFI wireless networks but the ever reducing blur between WIFI and service provider 3G/4G networks forces us to summarise it all as “THE WIRELESS NETWORK” (not technically correct, but you get the picture).
The wireless network underpins and enables the new world order, one where the end user can have the best connected experience of “ME” but at the swipe of a hand can choose to be part of a worldwide “WE”. That only works if the nothing stops connectively and no rules exist for connection (i.e. “it’s not available or limited to times, zones, locations”). The wireless network is already the primary network and with “gigabit wireless” coming soon destined to be so woven into the fabric of our personal and professional existence we face a “world wide stall” at times of wireless network failure. Some would say it makes the task of maintaining and securing these wireless networks far more important than we think. Uuummm, I think I can feel another blog coming on.
Until next time
Sometimes in the IT industry, we are prone to over complicate, confuse and bamboozle our customers. The use of acronyms, abbreviations and silly confusing names are occupational hazards in corporate IT and it’s about to get a little additional help in the next 10 days as Microsoft release 3 versions of “Windows”, developed for 3 different technology markets/scenarios: -
- Windows 8 (standard, Pro, enterprise)
- Windows RT
- Windows Phone 8
Windows 8 and RT are released for general availability on Friday October 26th, and Windows Phone 8 has an entirely different release all of its own on Monday 29th. So, 3 products, what are they for, and what are the primary differences?
Windows 8 is what users would normally consider Windows, though as I briefly covered last week, it looks different and is developed to cover both touch, keyboard and mouse. There are different versions depending on your specific need, but essentially, it’s your usual corporate windows, Active Directory integrated product, which runs typical X32 and X64 bit applications, and is entirely backward compatible with Windows 7.
Windows RT, (a name that has no meaning at all) is really geared as consumer market product. It doesn’t run on Intel X32 or X64 technology, but runs on ARM technology usually found in smartphone handset technology. It’s geared as an alternative to Android and Apples’ ubiquitous iPad tablets, and will spawn quite a lot of cheap slates no doubt.
Windows RT cannot be connected to an Active Directory, but will be shipped with Office 2013 (a version for RT), but, oddly, it’s a version which cannot be used to create corporate/commercial documents unless you have additional licence entitlement apparently. (An interesting move, but one I can’t see people keeping too, or see how that’ll be very enforceable). Most importantly, it cannot run traditional corporate 32bit or 64 bit applications, though you will be to use it with Citrix receiver if you have such technology available to you.
Applications for Windows RT will be downloaded from the app store, and as of writing this, there are around 6000 apps already available, (which isn’t bad considering it’s not released yet), and I hear Microsoft talking 100k apps by Xmas, which seems optimistic to me, but I guess we’ll see who’s the loser on that bet come Xmas. £10 that I’m a winner MS.
Windows Phone 8 will be a very interesting product, one which has been swathed in secrecy. Microsoft are seemingly try to create some hype (ala Apple). All of the features have not been released yet, and the development tools have only been released to the very top application developers to try and contain leaks of what’s in the product.
What I can tell you, is that it’s going to be a very well integrated corporate product, fixing all of its previous products shortfalls in the corporate security space. Expect class leading mail/calendar (as has been in 7.5), with encryption and application security to surpass all. We’ll cover more details when it’s released. Expect some cutting edge industry leading handsets, (Nokia Lumia 920 anyone?) and it’s going to be a big push by Microsoft to attack corporate phone supply business for Microsoft houses.
What’s the most interesting thing about all these versions of Windows though is in one specific feature that’s not been widely articulated by Microsoft, and one I believe could well prove to be one of the primary drivers for (corporate) adoption. When we consider most likely use cases for the new versions of Windows almost all are likely be used primarily on mobile devices.
The biggest challenge almost every corporate is having with mobility, (beyond the issue of wall to wall wireless internally), is getting access to corporate applications. Sure email and calendaring is pretty easy, and most corporates have done tactical MDM implementations to help with the challenge of enabling BYO, and providing some corporate integration. Applications access though, is not widely successful or even remotely easy to achieve right now.
Most corporate applications are X32 or X64, though of course, there are many applications that are widely used that are Web enabled. Windows 8 and all its derivatives, all run the same common OS core code, (we call that a kernel), what this means, is that applications that are developed for your traditional desktop OS, can be quickly and easily ported down onto both RT and Windows phone 8. What a vendor will have finally enabled, is a way of creating apps and making them easily movable across a broad spectrum of devices, a scenario that Apple hasn’t enabled or achieved across iOS and OSX and it’s entirely impossible on Android too.
Could this one specific feature be the killer feature that Microsoft needs to really provide customers with a more scalable and a better mobile integrated business? I guess only time will tell, but it’s certainly got to be an interesting consideration for an organisation and its mobility strategy, if like most, you’ve not been developing your own iOS or Android Apps. Will we finally move from tactical mobile solutions to a more strategic choice with a key vendor? Microsoft is certainly hoping so.
The British are famous for being quite reserved, at times cynical and in the views of many not that good at celebrating success. However all of that changed a fortnight ago when London 2012 captivated the nation. In the worlds of Lord Coe “we did it right”, and how we did it right. But the countrywide euphoria and team GB success wasn’t the only high point, “the Network worked”.
I must admit that I hoped it would but still feared the worst. This was set to be the “Digital games” and at times I joined the many prophets of doom prior to the Olympics with forecasts of network slowdowns due to the volume of standard and high definition video expected across worldwide networks. But like “Y2K” and many of the previous “digital Armageddon’s” nothing untoward happened. The digital universe underpinned by the Internet and mobilised by the new wave of highly interactive mobile users, watched, snapped (digital photos), streamed (video, online content) and “shared” when they wanted to – how they wanted to. And the Network just “worked”.
The recent figures released from the BBC are compelling and surely throw down the gauntlet for the Olympics in Rio 2016.
55m (global) and 37m (UK) browsers to the BBC Sport site in total across the Games (with the previous record for a single day was 7.4m global and 5.7m UK). And the records continued to tumble with 106m overall requests for BBC Olympic video content, more than double seen for any previous events. And let’s not forget our “on the movers” with 34% of the daily users mobile browsers with 12m requests for video from mobiles. I cant end this BBC digital roundup without mentioning my daughters favourite, “the BBC Red Button” with 23.7m viewers to the 24 SD, HD and Freeview streams throughout the Games, and every single stream seeing at least 100,000 viewers.
This leads me to a recent enlightening meeting with Jeremy Wallis the UK CTO of Netapp with discussions of the pervasiveness of 10Gb Ethernet as an enabler of simple, high performance storage connectivity. Checking back to the BBC figures, 2.8 petabytes of content was requested across the Olympics, with the peak traffic moment occurring when Bradley Wiggins won Gold with over 700 Gb/s. This is a sounding cry for those who forget to place storage and the network hand in hand.
Away from the anecdotes the hard numbers highlight the “network” took everything thrown at it across the Olympics period and more and just delivered. It even endorsed a working approach we have dabbled with from the earliest network “connected” environments – remote home & teleworking. Who can forget those empty central London streets and congestion free trains and UK PLC on mass where possible “working from home” (ok, maybe the park on a tablet computer). The remote access and corporate connectivity platforms seamlessly handled not just the existing corporate remote worker pool but also the short term “Olympic home worker” pool without a hiccup – surely heralding a new dawn in organisational approaches to redress the work life balance.
And what now, do we applaud gleefully the magical performance of global networks and shrink back into the “old way” of doing things. I suggest not, as the digital template delivered and embraced for the 2012 Olympics has surely proved the network is not only here to stay but is now a fundamental part of who we are.
Maybe those 70s and 80s SciFi films weren’t that far off the mark after all.
Until next time
I wonder how many of you saw Apple’s remarkable results last week? If you didn’t, they nearly doubled their quarterly profits and amongst all of the other superlatives in the commentary they added over $40 billion to their market cap! In fact the iPad maker has the biggest weighting of any company in the S&P 500, accounting for 4.5pc of the overall index – it has been quite a while since
so much tech sentiment revolves around just one stock.
One of the other data points I picked up on was that they have now sold over 60 million iPads worldwide since their inception in 2010 and has hence created a category all of their own. Whether it be their financial might or technology innovation – you certainly can’t ignore them.
Apart from the fantastic opportunity this presents business in changing they way they can enable and support their workforce, it has created a lot of headaches too!
To this end, we’ve been busy working with Apple to ensure we have developed our portfolio in line with their with technology to help our clients and provide the type of service that most Enterprise workers have become accustomed to. We’ve even put a little ‘chalk n talk’ video together to outline what we have done. You can check it out here. I hope you like it?