All NHS staff in Scotland will use Microsoft Teams to communicate and work together as they tackle the pandemic.
NHS Scotland rolled out the tool, which is part of Office 365, to more than 160,000 workers, including health boards and those on the frontline in hospitals, NHS24, Health Protection Scotland and the Scottish Ambulance Service.
It means staff can securely upload, share and work on the same online files at the same time from wherever they are. As well as holding virtual meetings, healthcare workers can contact colleagues by secure instant messaging and direct audio or video calls.
Colin Sinclair, Chief Executive of NHS National Services Scotland, said: “This unprecedented event, combined with a lockdown of the UK, has led to an unequivocal need to open up digital communications to help the NHS save lives.
“In response to the challenges of the pandemic, NHS Scotland has accelerated the rollout of Microsoft Teams, so that it is available to all of our staff.
“A national team was already working closely with local health board teams on the planned rollout of Microsoft Office 365 over the coming months, but in agreement with the Scottish Government, we accelerated that rollout to a couple of weeks. This technology is helping us enormously in allowing our organisation to adapt promptly to this emergency.
“I thank the IT teams whose determination has made this possible within challenging timescales. There is much work ahead, but I encourage all NHS colleagues to use Microsoft Teams as their secure communication and collaboration tool as we respond to support Scotland’s health and wellbeing in these unparalleled times.”
Teams will allow staff across Scotland to collaborate, from Shetland to Dumfries and Galloway, despite having to restrict travel, meet online, isolate wards, self-quarantine and work remotely.
Paul Campbell, doctor and clinical director for Clinical Informatics, said: “Microsoft Teams is already proving invaluable to clinical colleagues in NHS Scotland. It has reduced the need for face-to-face meetings and streamlined the co-ordination and communication of plans and information. It has also brought clinical teams together, often across boundaries and disciplines.
“These teams have been able to create and share guidelines, understand and manage staffing challenges, and provide an immediate communication network to support remote working. It has helped them respond rapidly to the significant changes in clinical practice that have been required to help save lives during this national crisis.”
Last month Microsoft made Teams free for all NHS staff so they can quickly communicate with colleagues, and the company has been working closely with NHS Scotland, Scottish Government Digital Health and care teams.
Cindy Rose, Chief Executive of Microsoft UK, added: “Microsoft is fully committed to assisting the NHS at this incredibly challenging time. Our team has worked closely with NHS Scotland to accelerate the rollout of Microsoft Teams to all Boards across the country. As a result, the hardworking doctors, nurses and support staff of NHS Scotland are already benefitting from this new way of working as they pursue their vital work.
“We are hugely appreciative of their ongoing efforts to tackle the pandemic and will continue to provide support however best we can.”