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National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): Bringing IT up to date and making it easy for thousands of medical practitioners to use

Each year the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) Coordinating Centre  manages thousands of research projects involving large clinical trials.

We’ve worked with them in various ways, including developing a new system for updating and tracking the progress of clinical trials and creating a service where people can volunteer to help with dementia research, called Join Dementia Research. Underpinning all this has been our work migrating their systems to the cloud, and training and supporting the 23,000 doctors, nurses and other medics who use the systems.

With the cloud you only pay for what you use. So, for example, the CRN Coordinating Centre offers a platform to alert the public to dementia trials. Access by the public can increase dramatically in response to a news story – one weekend a BBC story resulted in an increase by a factor of 50. Without the cloud, the CRN Coordinating Centre would have needed to invest in additional infrastructure to accommodate the largest number of users, so a significant proportion of the infrastructure would go unused for most of the time. With cloud technology it doesn’t matter if there are 500 users or 50,000 – it can scale to meet demand. As the CRN Coordinating Centre is a publicly-funded body, it’s essential they get value for money.

People can access systems wherever they need to work – a hospital, university or research centre, say. Everything’s accessible using a web browser. This simple but powerful change allows for better collaboration across the country and promotes flexible working.

We developed a self-service portal people can use to solve problems themselves – it also allows them to ‘live chat’ or use instant messaging. Our service performance consistently exceeds industry benchmarks: nine out of 10 calls to our service desk are fixed first time, and overall 98% of the time we resolve incidents within our targets. Having us take care of this, means users can get on with the business of managing vital research.

Find out more about our work in healthcare.

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