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It’s been an exceptional time for digital healthcare leaders. To reflect on their experiences and delve into their learnings, we brought together a diverse range of experts for a virtual discussion in partnership with AWS and VMware. Our participants included healthcare leaders from central government, NHS Trusts and primary care providers. This enabled a truly all-encompassing and well-informed discussion. We began with a panel discussion between Emma Taylor, Founder of Nimbus Ninety, Kira Levy, Head of Healthcare UK at AWS and Ed Rafferty, Head of Healthcare UKI at VMware.
A PIVOTAL EIGHTEEN MONTHS
Kira began by telling us how and why the last eighteen months had been challenging and exciting. We heard how the pandemic rewired perspectives and created a shift in thinking in the healthcare industry. Where previously, conversations about cloud capabilities had been siloed in IT departments and focused on infrastructure, healthcare leaders are now thinking about cloud computing differently. Leaders are coming together to unpack the ways cloud solutions can address the big questions facing the NHS both during and post pandemic.
This change in thinking, necessitated by the global pandemic, created the need for fast and effective mobilisation and led to incredible achievements. Ed talked about how refreshing it had been to witness how quickly digital transformation could take place. “I was struck by the speed at which we had to act at a time of immediate crisis,” he said. VMware Cloud on AWS was utilised as part of the NHS Test and Trace programme to reach 20 million users in 12 weeks. Improving patient outcomes, while enabling employees to work safely from home had been a key driver. At one point during national lockdown, VMware Cloud on AWS enabled an 150% increase week-on-week in virtual care. Kira and Ed agreed that maintaining momentum to build back better after the pandemic will be key to future successes. Yet a number of challenges remain in place. To delve into the real-world barriers, we moved into roundtable discussions with Nimbus Ninety members.
THE BARRIERS TO CHANGE
Our members told us that while incredible digital transformation has been achieved nationally since the beginning of the pandemic, at a local level, healthcare leaders face a number of live obstacles:
- The skills gap
To take advantage of advanced technologies, organisations need employees with the skill sets to understand and utilise them. For organisations who don’t yet have in-house expertise, Kira explained that the VMware Cloud on AWS team can create pathways to enable healthcare professionals to begin their cloud journey and develop the skills to build cloud solutions.
- The application landscape and legacy equipment
Not all applications are fit for the cloud, and in the healthcare industry, some applications need to stay on-premise. Ed noted that this doesn’t rule out cloud solutions - a hybrid approach can be implemented.
- Stakeholder engagement
Gaining organisation-wide buy in is key. It’s no longer enough to have the backing of the IT department alone,when a business decision is in play. To ensure cloud transformation projects thrive, they must demonstrate digital, clinical and financial benefits. Kira explained that AWS healthcare customers have reported a 57% lower cost of migration and 39% lower infrastructure cost with VMware Cloud on AWS. Demonstrating the environmental impact is also increasingly vital.
- Making a business case
A strong business case can be make or break. Our members noted how complex and time consuming the process can be. Clear data demonstrating why a change is required is a prerequisite, especially for a move from CapEx to OpEx. But legacy systems don’t always provide the data that’s needed. As a result, instead of focusing on change, leaders can end up focusing on trying to find the necessary insights. Ed recommended speaking to those who have been through the process already to help to lessen the load. “We’ve seen business cases which have been shared with others and this really helps them to see what good looks like,” he said.
We closed the session by asking Kira and Ed to summarise the findings from their discussion groups. Here were their takeaways:
- It doesn’t have to be one size fits all
Choice and flexibility is there for the taking. Invest the time and resources needed to co-create a cloud adoption strategy that’s tailored to the needs of your organisation.
- Don’t try to eat the elephant all at once
Start small - the beauty of VMware Cloud on AWS is that it can spin up and spin down in line with what an organisation requires.
- Collaborate to build the business case
Work with peers, health tech providers and partners to enable cloud adoption plans that drive business continuity, and next generation application development.