2017 was a challenging year for NHS IT teams; the impact of increasingly high staff turnover rates, the influx of technology adoption and some well-publicised cyber-attacks. As NHS CIOs and CTOs plan for 2018, managing the constant state-of-flux typical of the NHS must be central to IT strategy.
Employee management efficiencies
The complexity of managing such a vast number of employees is an ongoing challenge for the NHS. With a wide range of systems, they must ensure that access is controlled; allowing employees to do their jobs, but withdrawing access for leavers promptly.
Automation of these processes is the only way to accurately manage this area, as significant NHS staff turnover rates continue.
In March 2017 NHS vacancies soared by 15.8%, compared to March 2016, and this rising staff turnover trend is not a one off. Month-on-month, the NHS is challenged by staff instability and record numbers of leavers.
Shifting employees has a knock-on effect for IT, as they try to keep up and ensure access is removed for leavers and added for new starters in a timely manner. This can only be achieved by removing the onerous task of manually entering details into multiple systems and enhancing automation, with systems such as BDS Solutionsâ€™ Directory Manager, to enable efficient identity management.
Business continuity assurance
Cybersecurity will always be an ongoing risk for NHS, as will ensuring systems stay updated and stay operational. Business continuity is central to patient care, so should remain at the top of the CTO and CIO agenda.
Prioritising patches and upgrades is critical to ensure your systems do not fail. If systems stop working, medical and administration services come to a halt.
One of the biggest challenges for the IT department is having the time or the window of opportunity to conduct these important security and system upgrades. This has been identified as critical but difficult to resource, with many organisations now favouring BDS Solutions patch management services to provide ongoing protection.
Mobility equals agility
The commissioning of Trust-wide Wi-Fi is becoming increasingly common, coupled with more systems available via mobile devices, all enabling clinicians to have a more agile approach to treating patients.
Providing advice, ordering tests, scheduling appointments, or viewing and updating records are all conducted alongside the patient to enable more accurate records to be kept and more efficient patient care.
Technology is fuelling mobility across many industries and it has already had a significant impact in the NHS; not only arming medical staff to conduct their roles more efficiently, resulting in less frustration for both the staff and the patient, but also delivering a more productive working day. This will continue to be a key focus in 2018.
Agility and automation
NHS CIOs and CTOs agenda in 2018 must centre around agility and automation to support efficiency in identity management, business continuity and mobility. Increased collaboration between organisations under the evolving STP framework, optimising and sharing resources within the local NHS community, and building a shared infrastructure model in line with that supported by BDS Solutions across the NWSIS, will create a more robust and productive NHS.