How IT & Open Source Software Can Provide The Perfect Patient Experience

Throughout my career in IT I’ve always been drawn to solving big scary problems, and especially those that involve a real step change in value to customers and end users. I get excited about trying to deliver what to others might seem like an impossible challenge. So when I was invited to get involved in this challenge I couldn’t wait to roll my sleeves up!

Today every NHS trust carries the burden of managing a hugely complex and costly technology estate. Toward the top of this list of burdens is maintaining the estate of Windows devices. The issues this causes are:

  • The management of these devices has been traditionally very costly, with continual large and costly upgrade cycles.
  • The need to patch constantly.
  • The requirement to buy costly and proprietary products to manage a closed operating system.

The NHS will shortly face a further costly hurdle with the demise of the NHS Microsoft EWA (Enterprise Wide Agreement), where all operating systems up to and including Windows 7 are included in a nationally agreed and funded package.

With the end of extended support for Windows 7 looming in 2020, trusts are already needing to contemplate entering in to further costly licence agreements that enable them to start mobilising their migration plans to Windows 10.

The big question…, can Open Source software offer a viable alternative…?

NHSbuntu is an initiative that aims to bring together the benefits of an Open Source platform such as Ubuntu with the specific needs of the NHS. The vision is that is will be possible to foster and grow a complete open source desktop ecosystem that is able to challenge, disrupt and eventually displace the incumbent closed Windows platform. The opportunity is that trusts are able to reduce technology expenditure, increase choice and freedom, and ultimately delivery better care for patients.

“The path to success is a very long and windy one with many obstacles and deep chasms strewn along the way, but at the end sits a very significant and compelling prize for those willing to embark upon the journey!”

Hippo have been very active in driving forward the Healthcare Open Source agenda, working with several NHS trusts to solve identity challenges using and developing open source software. The opportunity for IT to streamline costs, productivity, and user experience in a revered public service which is undergoing huge strain on its finances is a rewarding focus for our expertise.

NHSbuntu must overcome a number of obstacles in its bid to challenge the dominant position of Windows within healthcare. Toward the top of this list is the need to provide a secure platform and environment where patient data can be retrieved and updated.

Hippo Digital were approached to offer insight and assistance in the identity space, and namely looking at the challenge of Smartcard authentication.

The NHS relies upon Smartcards as a strong and effective mechanism to ensure that only authorised individuals can access health records, and that commitments such and the Care Record Guarantee and Data Protection Act are upheld.

The first task…, can we get Smartcard authentication working on NHSbuntu…? By doing this we not only achieve the milestone of overcoming a significant technical hurdle, but we also make a very large initial step toward winning hearts and minds around proving that the platform offer a true viable alternative to the incumbent and expensive alternatives.

Find out more about NHSbuntu here - https://www.nhsbuntu.org

Find out more about Hippo Digital here - http://hippodigital.co.uk

Photograph of Brett Jackson

Brett's passion is solving big scary problems. He is most at home working on the moonshot projects leading or delivering transformational change to organisations and users. He has an extensive background in delivery of large scale critical services but remains a techie at heart. Knows a bit too much about riding bikes irresponsibly.