NHS moving to Microsoft’s cloud

Synchronisation of NHSmail to Azure AD and integration with O365 claimed to be part of NHS Digital’s long-term vision for greater collaboration across the wider health and care system

Posted 20 February 2018 by Gary Flood

NHS Digital is moving the entire health service on to Microsoft’s cloud-based desktop.

When completed, the port will see NHS users being able to use a range of applications and services via their NHSmail credentials.
The move will integrate NHSmail, which already uses Microsoft Exchange and Skype for Business to securely share patient information, with the vendor’s Office 365.
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, while 0365 is a subscription-based cloud productivity suite that includes services such as OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, Teams and Yammer.
The upgrade starts with the synchronisation of the NHSmail directory with Azure AD, which the body says it expects will be completed by this April, “quickly followed” by integration with Office 365 services (commonly known as O365), with the new system fully rolled out by August.
“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,” said Neil Bennett, Service Director for NHS Digital, yesterday.
“It means information can be more readily and securely shared between health and care organisations and teams can collaborate more easily [and] ultimately will enable NHS staff to access multiple applications and services using their NHSmail user name and password which makes their job easier.”
All 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, adds NHS Digital.
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.
NHSmail service team will continue to provide frontline support for the core NHSmail service and any organisation wishing to use the NHSmail/O365 hybrids and users are promised they’ll see “no change” in how they currently access NHSmail, plus there will be no additional licence costs resulting from the synchronisation.
NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner of the health and care system.