NHS staff will be able to communicate with each other through better integrated systems, thanks to new plans announced by NHS Digital.
The plans will eventually see users being able to log into a range of applications and services, integrated with Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), using their NHSmail credentials.
The initiative will integrate NHSmail, which uses Microsoft Exchange and Skype for Business to securely share patient information, with Office 365.
All NHS employees can use NHSmail, as can those organisations commissioned to deliver NHS services.
The first part of the journey will be the synchronisation of the NHSmail directory with Azure AD, which is expected to be completed by this April.
This will be quickly followed by integration with Office 365 services - commonly known as O365. This should be completed by August.
Neil Bennett, Service Director for NHS Digital, 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.
"It means information can be more readily and securely shared between health and care organisations and teams can collaborate more easily.
"Ultimately it will enable NHS staff to access multiple applications and services using their NHSmail user name and password which makes their job easier.
"This benefits patients because it makes the NHS more efficient and they can be assured that their confidentiality continues to be strictly maintained."
O365 services will be hosted in the EU or US data centres in accordance with the recently published guidance on offshoring data and the use of public cloud services. NHSmail Exchange and Skype for Business services which will remain outside of the O365 tenant will continue to be hosted within NHSmail data centres in England.
The existing national NHSmail service team will continue to provide frontline support for the core NHSmail service and any organisation wishing to use the NHSmail/O365 hybrid.
Users will see no change in how they currently access NHSmail, and there will be no additional licence costs resulting from the synchronisation.
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Notes to editors
- NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner of the health and care system. Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend. During the 2016/17 financial year, NHS Digital published 292 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better.
- Azure AD is a cloud-based directory that enables secure, cloud-based identity management for NHSmail, giving NHSmail users the ability to authenticate to Azure AD services using their NHSmail credentials.
- 0365 is a subscription-based cloud productivity suite that includes services such as OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, Teams and Yammer. NHSmail users that have an active 0365 subscription will benefit from close integration between NHSmail and 0365 components.
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