MS Office 365 cleared for email use in the NHS

Microsoft has been confirmed as the first non NHS organisation to pass the high bar of ISB 1596 requirements for data handling.  Their Outlook application in Office 365 has passed the English Health and Social Care Secure Email ISB 1596 standard, published in February 2014.  This allows Outlook, in Office 365, to be used for emails containing personal and sensitive data including patient data.

The ISB 1596 standard provides a set of rugged, independently audited governance and compliance controls which affirm that data, which can identify a person, can be safely transmitted by staff following correct data handling procedures.

As public sector general manager at Microsoft UK, Derrick McCourt commented:  “Microsoft is pleased to have worked with the Health and Social Care Information Centre to meet this standard”. 

Up until now NHSmail has dominated the NHS and sister organisations as the main customised secure email software for healthcare, meeting government standards around patient and confidential data.  In June, the Department of Health announced that Accenture had won a £350m contract with the Crown Commercial Service to supply a new email system, dubbed NHSmail2.

This is an important step for Microsoft allowing them to access one of the largest organisations in the UK, made sweeter after their loss to rival Google over supplying internal apps within HMRC.  However, the commercial impact is great for health or social care organisations.  Primary and secondary care organisations including GP practices and hospitals, will now be able to access a more competitive market, leveraging substantial cost efficiencies of Microsoft Office 365 email, whilst remaining safe in the knowledge they are compliant with this standard.

JP Norman, Head of Technology & Governance, commented: “This accreditation will allow already challenged NHS organisations a third alternative for email systems. Selecting Office 365 Email would potential remove a considerable amount of effort for any NHS organisation that does not wish to move all email to NHSmail.   Up until this point the only two choices were migrate all email to NHSmail or ensure local email solutions meet the ISB 1596 standard by June 2016.  In May 2014 NHSmail had a total of 938,592 registered mailboxes and generic accounts with 618,806 person accounts in regular (daily) use within the NHS of which 91,029 were in Scotland. 445 organisations and many thousands of GP Practices use it as their sole email service (more than 70% of their accounts active), with another 723 organisations using it to a lesser extent. Having choice in this part of their service administration is a luxury these health workers have not been afforded before now”.

Les Keen, Director of Sales at Amicus ITS, commented on this new opportunity:  “It is an important win for Microsoft getting Office 365 Email accredited for patient data transmission.  It will open up many opportunities for MSPs serving the healthcare space.   From our point of view, the timing could not be better for Amicus ITS.  We have a well-established, fully scalable Cloud Services Framework that we offer http://goo.gl/SOFmLV, but excitingly we are just about to launch a brand new service called “Cloud First”. This is a complete IT support service model for SMEs, offering a simple £100 cost per user for 5 – 150 staff”. 

“Cloud First would be absolutely ideal for GP practices, especially given our accreditation and history of service in the healthcare sector”. 

Cloud First service summary:
• Office 365
• UK based IT Service Desk support from trained technical staff
• Any device, anywhere support
• 1 Tb data storage per user
• Upfront Service Level Agreements

Anyone interested in discussing Cloud First or speaking to any of the G-Cloud Team can call 02380 429429.

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