England’s largest NHS Trust pioneers Windows 8 with Windows To Go to enable Flexible Working

Success of Olympics pilot has led to widespread deployment of new Windows 8 business offering.

Microsoft has today announced that Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is one of the first organisations in the UK to deploy Windows To Go, a fully manageable corporate Windows 8 desktop on a USB stick, following a successful flexible working trial during the Olympics.

The organisation began using the solution this summer, to enable flexible and remote working during the Olympic Games. The Trust had been concerned about travel challenges caused by the increase of tourists and athletes and the impact this would have on the ability of IT staff to effectively keep over 400 systems working. The Trust faced the expense of buying new laptops in order to facilitate mobile working and ensure critical services were not disrupted.

However, by using Windows To Go, staff were able to access their work remotely, ensuring they continued to work both efficiently and securely so the Trust could continue to provide the same standard of patient care and health services. All staff had to do was plug a USB drive, loaded with Windows To Go, into their home PC.

The solution is a version of the new Windows 8 Operating System designed specifically for businesses, allowing users to boot a full version of Windows remotely. It can be deployed and managed like a traditional desktop PC using standard Windows enterprise software distribution tools like System Center Configuration Manager. The difference is that it can be used on employees’ own PCs – supporting ‘Bring Your Own Device’ in a secure manner.

Microsoft worked with the Trust’s technology team to see how they could integrate Windows 8 into the current IT infrastructure. The Trust decided to purchase encrypted USB sticks and load them with Windows To Go. This provided staff with their fully functioning desktop, no matter what device they plugged the USB into.

The pilot scheme proved a great success, and the Trust is now looking at making the solution more widely available to staff across the organisation.

Kathy Lanceley, Deputy CIO and Head of ICT Operations at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: “Like most businesses in London this summer, Imperial faced significant potential challenges to its ability to provide high quality care and services due to the Olympics pressure on transport networks in the city. Many of our staff travel into central London on public transport. We originally thought the only solution was to provide staff with new laptops. However Microsoft’s Windows To Go solution provided a far more cost-effective and seamless solution that not only allowed our staff to successfully work remotely, but also proved very simple to roll out. The sticks cost us £50 each compared to £750 for a laptop. In the future we see this as having great potential to role out to clinical staff to provide them with an easy and secure way of accessing our Trust systems from home.”

Brian Dunleavy, NHS Business Manager at Ultima Business Solutions, a Microsoft partner with expertise in the healthcare sector, commented on the significance of the Windows To Go deployment at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust: “People often think that healthcare workers are purely based in hospitals or doctor’s surgeries, but often, clinicians are Just like office workers, needing access to information quickly, effectively and at any time, so they can access critical information and complete administrative tasks outside of the hospital setting. Until now, IT teams haven’t had the necessary tools to deliver such a fast and simple solution, but the availability of Windows To Go allows them to do so. The roll-out at Imperial College is tremendously exciting. Not only will it ensure IT delivers real value to staff across the Trust , it will pave the way for future upgrades and changes to the organisation’s clinical desktop platform.”