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Why the NHS should have its head in the cloud

Those of us who exist in the consulting world are often accused of having our heads in the clouds. Indeed, with a company name like Sirius, the cloud is where we should always live.

Well, for once this is a completely justified comment. In fact, the NHS would do much better if it managed to engage with the cloud itself!

The government has been pushing the greater use of cloud technology in the public sector for some time. It is seen as the future for effective and efficient information technology in the NHS. But a recent survey found that while two thirds of staff were aware of cloud computing, only half that number were confident using it. Some of the concerns expressed by the 2000 staff who were surveyed included security, lack of expertise and the time and effort necessary to switch systems.

All good points. But all can be overcome, with the huge benefits that cloud technology can deliver. As well as the ease of use and greater flexibility, cloud technology supports more partnership working and information sharing – exactly what the NHS needs. We all know that silo working just does not deliver what patients, staff and commissioners need.

However, this is not simply an IT story.

Alastair Mitchell, of the organisation Huddle who carried out the research said: “This isn’t another ‘NHS IT gone bad’ story. This is about the challenge of change management in a massive and complex organisation.”

Change is needed across the public sector. And the truth is that the public sector is not always very good at it. Change management is so often seen as an add-on to people’s day jobs rather than a specialist skill which needs resource and support.

IT and change management: two subjects that can terrify NHS managers! And subjects that have led to projects failing as people fail to get to grip with them.

But if you get it right… if you can embrace the technology of the cloud, and work with the professionals in delivering the organisational and cultural change you need, then you may not be on cloud 9, but you will certainly see significant benefits.

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