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HSCN – Driving additional value over your connection

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You know that feeling when you’ve been in your shoes all day and you finally get to sit down and kick them off? That wonderful release of pressure, and relaxation as you return to normal comfort levels? Well, that’s sort of how I feel after months and months of talking about HSCN connectivity and now the day has come when we are delivering real live services, proper mission-critical stuff, over the eagerly awaited new health and social care network. It’s a pleasurable relief, and having had to be up at that peak for so long in getting Redcentric ready and able to support its customers in the HSCN era, I have metaphorically flung myself on the sofa and the shoes have been somersaulted into a far corner somewhere.

Trouble is, I can’t sit still for long and my thoughts are already turning to what lies ahead. Not the many thousands of network migrations, that’s just gone into the Business as Usual pot for now, but what those migrations will lead to, what good things they will unlock. Just how much of a catalyst for positive change will the switch from N3 to HSCN be for the health and social care organisations across the land?

The simple answer is, huge, potentially: because organisations need to see HSCN not as an end in itself, ie a network replacement, but a means to an end, ie an operational enabler. If they take advantage of even just a few of the overlay services that can now be effortlessly run over HSCN, they can look to shape a better service for staff and citizenry, one built on efficiency and process and automation, one that supports faster, higher quality communication and collaboration, one that should sit proudly as a flagwaver for digital transformation.

Looking at the dam that is about to break within our own customer base, I’m confident that we are about to see a real tidal wave of change and improvement. I only need to look at the work we already have scheduled and the conversations we’ve been having to know that. And encouragingly it’s on both sides, from independent software vendors (ISVs) and Blue Badge holders.

So typically we have ISVs who are itching to get going with HSCN connectivity into AWS and Azure Public Clouds, as that aligns perfectly with their development or delivery strategies, and increasingly both. As we are currently the only CN-SP who can connect into the public cloud UK region and there are a large number of ISVs who have significant public cloud investments and need to access HSCN, you can imagine that that is a particularly busy sales line at the moment.

And that’s a great thing given that ISVs are already proving themselves as a primary source of innovation moving forward; there are some likely game-changers out there and we’re delighted that we have a stake in that game.

Within the Blue Badge community, there are already plenty of signs that they want to start leveraging their new network and their new operational and commercial freedoms. There are two hot areas right now, IP telephony and unified communications, and wireless. The latter is very understandable, as it’s not so much a ‘like to’ driver, more a ‘have to’ imperative. All GP practices must have a fully functional WiFi service in place for patients by the end of 2017, with hospitals and secondary care to follow in 2018; that is what the government has decreed and hence why we’re seeing this real sense of interest when it comes to wireless as an overlay service.

But if universal WiFi is seen as leading the charge in healthcare’s digital transformation agenda and to the creation of a ‘smart’ NHS, then next gen telephony and UC can’t be too far behind. Again, judged by the volume of proposals, this will be one of HSCN’s most dynamic playgrounds in 2018.

The fact is that telephony represents a perfect storm for the health sector with ageing PBXs and escalating costs on one side, a chronic need for a better communication experience for both patient and clinician on the other.

Managed IP telephony and unified communications offer organisations the chance to ride out that storm, emerging with a platform predicated on cost-efficiency, cohesion, control, connectivity and collaboration. And while none of this was impossible under N3, the magnitude of difficulty was very much greater. Today you have both the underlying transport network and solution providers in play to make substantial progress in the telephony arena very much easier, quicker, more commercially viable and still perfectly tailored to specific requirements.

With so much opportunity out there, you’d best keep those shoes off and fill your boots instead.

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