IBM is to bring the NHS electronic staff record (ESR) system up to date with mobile access and self-service capabilities for 1.4 million employees.
The ESR acts as a central system for information, including payroll, learning and talent management and human resources, for all NHS staff in England and Wales.
IBM's Interactive Experience digital agency will introduce a "mobile ready portal" to allow NHS staff to access the ESR from PCs and mobile devices running Android and iOS.
IBM described the portal as a way of providing access to new and existing human resources services, including expenses and e-learning.
The contract between IBM and the NHS also involves creating the foundations for future ESR enhancements, such as dashboards to increase business intelligence reporting, and collaboration tools to reduce costs.
Simon Humberstone, head of healthcare for Europe at IBM Global Business Services, claimed that the modernisation of the ESR will boost performance and efficiency in the NHS.
"By introducing technologies that will further enable the NHS to expand its data analytics capabilities, alongside the latest online collaboration and social learning tools, knowledge will be more easily shared, clinical outcomes improved and performance levels increased," he said.
The contract to modernise the ESR is effectively a continuation of the five-year agreement between IBM and the NHS signed in December 2014, after a competitive tender in which the NHS moved away from specialist healthcare technology provider McKesson.
The agreement was worth between £200m and £400m for IBM, which beat the likes of Accenture, Atos and TCS, according to healthcare news site National Health Executive.
Flexible access to IT systems appears to be a focus for the NHS. In related news, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust has chosen Citrix virtualisation technology to enable access to desktops and applications from any device and location.
Jonathan Murden, IT operations manager at the hospital, said that remote access is core to any new system developed by the hospital.
"Clinical staff want very quick access to everything wherever they are, ultimately allowing them to diagnose and treat patients quickly and effectively," he said.
The hospital IT team opted for iDesktop, a virtualisation service built on top of Citrix's XenApp and XenServer products. This allows clinicians to access their desktops from any hospital by simply tapping a security card on a terminal's access controller.
This process has given clinicians faster access to patient data and has been claimed to save two hours per shift for the hospital's clinical staff.
The system also uses Citrix's NetScaler to balance loads across the network that supports around 2,000 thin-client desktop terminals running Windows 2008 R2-based virtual desktops.
The NHS might be opting for technology that improves data access and enables more flexibility for medical staff, but the service will need to be cautious as it faces fines from the Information Commissioner if it fails to protect data.
The watchdog recently warned that making NHS patient data accessible online puts it at risk from hackers and cyber criminals.
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