For most NHS organisations, and indeed any sizable organisation, the thought of migrating thousands of devices and hundreds of applications to Windows 10 can be daunting. For healthcare organisations there are additional complexities, with quirky and often antiquated applications and peripheral devices, thousands of staff with diverse work styles and an environment that can be hectic, inaccessible and sometimes reluctant to change.  Couple these complexities with tight timescales and depleted teams trying to manage other priorities as well as BAU and the result is often an IT department struggling to keep their heads above water.

Despite these challenges and the looming deadline of January 2021 (following NHS Digital’s 1-year extension with Microsoft), Windows 10 shouldn’t be feared but instead embraced as a way to make improvements and get things right. It should be viewed as a chance to rethink the way the Clinical Workspace is delivered, to redefine strategy and make staff as effective as possible. It is an opportunity to deliver services and applications in new ways that increase productivity, tighten security, minimise risks and outages and make things a whole lot easier and better for everyone.

Enabling a more productive workforce

The reality is that within many NHS Trust’s the desktop experience hasn’t historically been great. Crippled by slow logons, multiple passwords, slow and unreliable applications and virus outbreaks, the everyday lives of clinicians have been plagued by IT problems for years.  A modern Windows 10 operating system won’t magically fix these legacy issues alone – a change in approach is needed to drive wholesale improvements.

With such diversity and complexity, it’s easy to see how over-stretched IT teams can struggle to match services to end user requirements. This typically results in solutions that are misaligned to expectations and, consequently, are poorly adopted.

Engaging with stakeholders is paramount to the success of any project, and a large-scale IT project such as a Windows 10 migration is no different. If the plan is to simply replace one operating system with a newer one, then that project is already bound for failure. Instead, consider running workshops, distributing surveys and leading thought-provoking innovation sessions with stakeholders to better understand the current pain points, requirements and future aspirations. This will give you invaluable insight for the development of meaningful solutions and services.

You should be looking to leverage new features and functionality to make access easier, and more secure. Per-app VPN can easily replace legacy VPNs that can be extremely cumbersome to use (and manage). Application portals can provide staff with a one-stop-shop for tools and resources, as well as giving organisations improved visibility of user adoption and licensing of applications. Single Sign-on removes barriers and governance concerns that are so prevalent within the NHS today. NHS organisations can benefit tremendously from extending a Windows 10 migration into a wider improvement program that combines new productivity-enhancing services.

Simplifying NHS security & governance requirements

The NHS Data Security & Protection Toolkit, CareCERT management and Cyber Essentials certification are all necessary steps to protect patient information. However, implementing the policies and systems to meet the requirements of these initiatives only adds further strain on already busy IT teams, with some mid-sized organisations needing to dedicate 2-3 full-time team members to seeking out and patching incompliant devices across the network.

The DSPT, for example, is a set of around 170+ requirements that mandate data security best practices for an NHS organisation, with around 60 of the requirements having relevance to end-user devices. Desktop teams must ensure that all their devices meet these requirements to be compliant, but how can this be enforced and verified efficiently for a physical estate that consists of thousands of devices, in a variety of locations?

Modern management tools can be tailored to not only give visibility and track the level of compliance but also enforce it across the estate. Automating the application of required DSPT policies and CareCERT vulnerability alerts not only saves on IT manpower but, more importantly, provides a level of confidence and leaves a security footprint that would otherwise be difficult to track.

Using real-time dashboards to track and show the level of compliance for all devices can put desktop teams and IT Management on the front foot by automating the distribution of reports to the owners of Cyber Security rather than them having to chase individuals for the evidence. We can use this same approach to instantly analyse the vulnerability levels of devices against CareCERT alerts wherever they are, quickly deploying fixes whilst watching the risk footprint reduce on custom-built dashboards.

There is a better way …

Organisations should take advantage of modern management tools and methods to manage Windows 10 enabled mobile devices, making them easier to oversee and secure, and allowing you to streamline the way devices and applications are provisioned both inside and outside of the network. A mature, modern management approach can eliminate legacy tools and approaches, enabling IT to react quickly to the changing demands of the environment and providing users with secure access to the information, applications and services that they need.

Opportunities to drive transformation and make a real difference across an entire organisation don’t come around that often – this opportunity must be embraced to reap the full benefits.

If you would like to learn more about how we are helping our health and care clients to manage their Windows 10 migration, please download our guide:

View the Guide