Smart technology and the NHS: A new era of secure healthcare communications

4 min read
Improving digital communications across the NHS

In their mission to support the delivery of excellent healthcare, Health Education England (HEE) recently published a roadmap for the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the NHS, and its impact on the workforce.

The roadmap expands on the Topol review, which concludes that the NHS must focus on building a ‘digital workforce’. One of three primary takeaways from the review referred to, “The adoption of technology (...) to give healthcare staff more time to care and interact directly with patients”.

Aligning with a focus on patient engagement, while the HEE report identifies the use of AI primarily in diagnostic technology (with a 34% share), the areas of automation and efficiency were also highlighted.

Digital transformation remains a priority for the NHS. At the HSJ Digital Transformation Summit in February 2022, ex Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, referred to the pandemic as  “the biggest stress test in history” to the UK’s digital infrastructure. 

The introduction of smart technologies to drive the delivery of better, holistic care does not stop on hospital wards or in general practitioner’s offices, however. Artificial intelligence is supporting thousands of organizations globally to strengthen digital communications, comply with data protection laws, and improve efficiencies across large, and often widespread, workforces. 

For the healthcare sector, data protection is about more than compliance; it is about protecting people. Whether dealing directly with patients, or operating in administrative or operational capacities, healthcare professionals are handling more sensitive data than ever. However, according to the ICO’s latest quarterly report, the healthcare sector continues to take the lead over all others in reported data incidents, with the leading cause still being non-cyber related errors - that is, human error.

As a result, NHS trusts across the country are leveraging smart technologies to empower their employees to protect every sensitive digital communication. 

Integrated care systems (ICS) and digital communications 

New partnerships known as integrated care systems (ICS) seek to remove traditional barriers between doctors and hospitals to enable the better delivery of care and support services across local councils, the NHS, and other partners. 

To be truly effective, improvements must be made to the way these organizations engage with each other and their patients. 

Intuitive new solutions powered by machine learning are delivering a much improved experience to both NHS staff and patients. Through seamless integration with Outlook, NHSMail, O365, and Gmail, employees can secure every sensitive email and file within their email client - and accessing these communications is supremely simple for patients, with no requirement to log into clunky portals or create accounts.

Semantic aware business rules notify employees instantly to the presence of sensitive data (think NHS and national insurance numbers), enabling them to correct errors or encrypt messages with a single click. The same technology automates the whitelisting of domains to ensure messages are safe in transit. For non-approved domains, multi-factor verification functionality is enabled, meaning only the intended recipient can access communications.

NHS staff should not be burdened with digital security or compliance pressures. Their primary focus is, and should be, patient care. Smart technologies designed with the specific needs of healthcare organizations in mind can do more of the heavy lifting for staff, reducing data incidents and driving a new and improved standard of communications for trusts, healthcare providers, local authorities, and patients.

Smart technologies are shaping the future delivery of healthcare provisions, patient communications and data security. Find out how we’re leading the way.

First published -
Last updated - 06/07/22
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