NHSmail to integrate with Office 365 to aid health-service data-sharing
NHS Digital announces plan to integrate health-service email tool with Microsoft SaaS suite
NHSmail is to integrated with Microsoft’s Office 365 suite of applications in a bid to allow data to be “more readily and securely shared between health and care organisations”.
NHS Digital announced this week that health-service workers will soon be able to use their NHSmail login to access a range of Microsoft tools, thanks to an initiative to integrate NHS systems with the software vendor’s Azure Active Directory (AD). A programme of “synchronisation” of NHSmail and Azure AD – a cloud-based directory and identity-management tool – is due to be completed in April. Full integration with Office 365 will follow in August, allowing NHS workers to use a range of applications using their existing email login.
Microsoft’s flagship software-as-a-service product covers a range of common productivity programs, such as Word and Excel, as well as communications tools including Exchange, Skype for Business, and Yammer Enterprise.
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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.”
He added: "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."
The Microsoft services will be hosted from datacentres in the EU or the US – in line with recently published guidelines on suitable locations for NHS data.
NHSmail and will remain hosted from locations in England, as will Skype for Business services, which NHS Digital said “will remain outside of the O365 tenant” agreement with Microsoft.
Users of NHSmail should “see no change in how they currently access” their email account, and health-service organisations will not incur any extra licensing costs, NHS Digital said. The current NHSmail support team will remain on hand to provide support for those wishing to continue using the core email service, as well as those wanting to switch to the NHSmail-O365 hybrid offering.
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