NHS BYOD scheme restricted by Microsoft licensing costs

South Devon NHS Trust has had to scale back its Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scheme due to onerous licensing costs, according to IT operations manager David Hayes.

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South Devon NHS Trust has had to scale back its Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scheme due to onerous licensing costs, according to IT operations manager David Hayes.

The Trust, is currently working on a BYOD policy which it is due to formally launch this autumn, he said. It will initially launch for 60 users out of 10,000 members of staff.

However Hayes said: “The issue for us [with BYOD] is around licensing. We’re a Microsoft shop. And we have to ensure the user is correctly licensed for every device we bring into the organisation. We invite our staff to use their devices which saves us having the purchase those devices, but we have to fund the licensing.

“Initially we’re targeting it at specific clinical applications – ‘if you use this application you can have it’. We will have to start there. This year we’ll start with about 60 users.”

Licensing costs ‘very much a burden’

He admitted: “Our initial plans were much more ambitious. But Microsoft licensing costs were very much a burden. We’re seriously looking to see how we can achieve our business needs at the best price.”

 A Microsoft spokesperson said the company "doesn’t comment on our relationship with individual customers, however the Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) is Microsoft’s comprehensive cloud solution for IT and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) challenges.

"The Enterprise Mobility Suite discount makes it the most cost-effective way to acquire Azure Active Directory Premium for hybrid identity management, Windows Intune for mobile device and PC management and Azure rights management for information protection."

Going paperless

The Trust currently has a mobile working policy in place with about 350 Apple devices such as iPod Touches and iPads for clinicians, managers and other staff.

Hayes said: “We’ve been looking at mobile devices for some time. We found the Apple ecosystem and user experience at the time was significantly better than other products, and the walled garden security met our requirements.

“What we then needed in the armoury was a method for collaborative working and file sharing. Dropbox didn’t meet patient confidentiality requirements but we needed a product like that with NHS-level security.”

The team eventually went with Accellion’s mobile file sharing solution after a six month trial with about 50 users.

“It’s been very successful and very useful. We implemented within our own infrastructure rather than using a hosted service. It’s used for mobility – we have an awful lot of people attending meetings and frequently offsite. Now they can drop all the papers they need into Accellion, they don’t even need a network connection.”

The solution is part of wider work by the Trust to align with national targets for a ‘paperless NHS’ by 2018.

e-Prescribing and electronic records

For example the Trust is about to sign a “major contract” for an e-Prescribing system. It also plans to develop a clinical portal and put together its own electronic patient record (EPR) system, Hayes explained.

He said: “Rather than implement a big bang EPR we’re looking at doing it in a more fragmented way on an incremental basis. We’re taking the components of an EPR and putting together best of breed systems, rather than doing a huge monolithic implementation.”

Wearables ‘will be the future’

With the recent launch of the Apple Watch, Hayes was optimistic about the prospects for wearables in the healthcare sector.

He said: “There is a place for wearables in the NHS. I’m sure that will be the future. And it starts to dovetail into patients taking more responsibility for themselves.

“We have a clinician here who has done some work in the States and is very keen on Google glass.”

The Trust was the first ever to trial the new Google technology for medical purposes, with one of its surgeons using the device during a live operation last year, Hayes added.

Surgeons believe it may have the potential to advance medical education as it allows them to record and share their first-hand view of operations.

For example it could be used to mentor junior surgeons through a procedure or operations could be streamed to students so they can see them from the surgeon’s perspective.

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