Why the NHS must act now to harness the potential of next generation connectivity

NHS organisations and network providers must mobilise now in order to be ready for the termination of the current network contract, a new white paper from Updata argues.

The existing contract to deliver the N3 network to NHS organisations will come to an end in March 2017, to be replaced with the new Health and Social Care Network (HSCN).

Designed to be more flexible and cost-effective, as well as improving choice for providers, HSCN will be open to competing suppliers, which will end the reliance on a centrally-managed private network.It is hoped that the network will help to meet the Government’s vision for a more patient-centric NHS, as outlined in the Five Year Forward View. The new arrangements will mean packages will be designed to meet NHS providers’ individual needs, leading to improved patient care and better outcomes.

A white paper published today by Updata, part of Capita plc, outlines key challenges which must be met by both network suppliers and NHS organisations in order to be ready for the new network, and urges healthcare providers to start looking at the supplier marketplace as soon as possible.

Béatrice Butsana-Sita, Updata managing director, said: “The N3 contract will end in just six months, yet many NHS organisations are still to begin their search for a new provider, with many seemingly unaware of the choice that will soon become available.

Key Challenges

“There are several key challenges that the industry need to overcome in order to prepare for HSCN. These include ensuring all NHS organisations have access to a robust, reliable and secure network; communicating the changes that HSCN will bring; and putting in place measures which will ensure service to patients is not impacted while this switch-over takes place.

“With the potential for a rush on suppliers as the March 2017 deadline approaches, healthcare providers should start looking at the marketplace now to avoid getting trapped in delays caused by supplier demand.”

Updata’s white paper, “Next Generation Connectivity for the NHS”, includes insights from Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Director of Countywide IT Services for the Trust, Zack Pandor, said: “HSCN will undoubtedly bring flexibility which currently does not exist under the N3 network, but what is most important for Gloucestershire is the ability to create truly integrated and connected services.

“For all NHS organisations, creating efficiencies and providing the best possible value for money needs to be at the heart of the new network.”

The white paper is available to download.