Microsoft was a significant exhibitor at EHI Live 2012; with new products, new routes to engaging with NHS organisations, and a vibrant Partner community of experts...
EHI Live has cemented its position as the pre-eminent conference for healthcare technology professionals in the UK; and this year it took place at the NEC in Birmingham on 6-7th November. Yet whilst EHI Live has plenty of heritage and support (Health Minister Dan Poulter used his speech to reaffirm the importance of IT in healthcare delivery), this was a landmark year for Microsoft.
Like most healthcare IT suppliers, it is the first time the company has attended the event with a complete post-National Programme product offering – indeed Microsoft was a notable absence last year. Says Mark Smith, Director, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Microsoft UK, “It is also the first time we have been here under the post-Enterprise-Wide-Agreement regime: the engagement environment has changed, so we have changed, too”.
Attendees discovered that in the two years since Microsoft’s last appearance at EHI Live, the company has revised its entire structure in the healthcare business to best reflect the new priorities of NHS organisations: tried-and-tested solutions for local problems, delivered by innovative local specialists with global best-practice support. “Our strategy has been to completely integrate with our specialist healthcare Partner network”, says Smith, “and that was reflected in our stand at EHI Live”.
Smith continues, “Uniquely, the Microsoft Solutions Showcase stand featured ten pods, each devoted to one of our Partners and their products and services tailored to the healthcare market”. Angela Jennings, Marketing Manager at Enline, adds, “EHI Live was a great forum for Trusts to find out how forward thinking Microsoft and its partners are to when it comes to applying its technology to deliver relevant Healthcare solutions.”
Having different Partners under one roof, with many specialist disciplines and client delivery experiences to draw on, presented an unrivalled wealth of knowledge for attendees. Jennings says, “There was a common feeling of Trusts having to think innovatively about how they best deliver information to support Clinical outcomes under the overarching theme of doing more with less and tight budget constraints. We felt that the attendees were able to leave the stand with a key understanding of where these themes have been addressed at other Trusts using Microsoft technologies.”
In all, representatives of over one third of all NHS organisations had direct conversations with both Microsoft staff and Partners hand-picked to solve their specific delivery challenges; leading one Trust visitor to remark, “You’re now showing your commitment back to healthcare”. Another Partner simply said, “This is the best exhibition we’ve done in the last three years.”
Hot topics, hot technologies
Microsoft does, of course, have plenty of new products, tools and services to demonstrate. EHI Live, by happy coincidence, played out within three weeks of the launch of Windows 8, the latest version of the Windows Operating System, which delivers full support for the sort of mobile and touchscreen devices which are becoming so versatile in healthcare contexts at the bedside.
Enline’s Jennings says “Of particular interest for the Trusts we spoke with were: mobility and accessibility of information, streamlining clinical workflows to improve end user experience, and increasing operational efficiency through process automation.” Using tablets to extend IT from the nurses’ workstation into each ward solves some of the challenges associated with each of the items on that list. At EHI Live, therefore, all the pods at the Microsoft Solutions Showcase were equipped with Slates and the new Surface tablets running Windows 8, and then of course, demonstrating many of the tools for healthcare delivery designed by the Partner base.
Enline was one of several Partners demonstrating Clinical Desktop, a suite of off-the-shelf Microsoft products structured into a reliable and legacy-friendly solution to reduce the burden of unworkable login times and additionally allow open applications to follow clinicians across devices and care settings. A new White Paper on Clinical Desktop was released to coincide with EHI Live (you can download it here); but in essence it delivers:
- Faster and fewer logins per day for each user
- Follow-me desktop, across devices and locations
- Persistent records: keep a patient view open across devices and locations, too
- All with the assurance of locked down security, a simplified and consistent IT platform and therefore reduced maintenance costs.
Meanwhile, Andy Dunbar, manager of the healthcare business at Risual, says, "For us, EHI Live has been characterised by a strong appetite for exploiting technologies to support transformation in the NHS, and to drive not just clinical but also back-office and non-clinical efficiencies; which is very refreshing to see. There’s also a real emphasis on the end user, with services and devices being thought through with an end-user-centric focus." (You can see many more opinions from the exhibiting Partners at EHI Live in this video).
Smith says, “Surface and Windows 8 proved a huge draw to the stand and it was also exciting to see such an interest in Office365 and cloud services. The Cabinet Office’s continued development of the G-Cloud specification has given much confidence to Trusts, and this year the security and Information Governance objections are dwindling away, allowing NHS organisations and their IT partners to focus now on how commoditised technology services can be delivered efficiently.”
In all, ten Partners exhibited with Microsoft at EHI Live – here are links to their websites and some further product factsheets to download:
Further downloads can be found on the front page of this Microsoft Healthcare blog (look on the right hand side of the page for “EHI Live 2012 Downloads”).
By Nick Saalfeld, Journalist, Microsoft Public Sector