Cloud computing represents "the direction of travel" as the NHS works towards a Department of Health target of going paperless by 2018, Mike Jones, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust director of IT, has told Computing.
In an effort to improve efficiency and cut costs, the NHS aims to switch from using paperwork to using digital records, thus allowing patient information to be entered and retrieved digitally from mobile devices. For that to be successful, explained Jones, the NHS needs to adopt more cloud storage and hosting-based solutions.
"We accept that the general direction of travel will be cloud," he said.
"If we are to deliver all of the things we have to deliver and have them on mobile devices - wherever the patient is and wherever the individual clinician is - cloud is a very attractive solution," Jones continued. "Because you avoid the problems you have trying to connect through to the NHS network and hosting in local datacentres can be difficult."
Jones explained how Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust's electronic health records will soon effectively be part of a private cloud.
"Our electronic health record isn't in the cloud as such, we are expecting it to be a fully managed service, so for us, that's effectively a private cloud we're asking for. But we haven't gone through the [government G-Cloud] framework to do that, we've procured it elsewhere," Jones said
"But that's the direction of travel, absolutely, and we accept that," he added.
Jones previously told Computing how he's confident that Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust will reach its target of going paperless by the ambitious deadline set out by the Department of Health.
"All of the IT projects we've got on are geared towards ultimately taking us towards a paperless hospital by 2018," he said, later adding "so for us 2018 is achievable."