Microsoft Teams is continuing its goodwill by offering premium features to the UK's National Health Service (NHS) for free. The NHS is the largest healthcare provider in the world, but even it is seeing the stress of coronavirus. In some cases, with dwindling tests and intensive care machinery, workers are having to choose between their health and their patients.
“Microsoft is fully committed to assisting the NHS at this incredibly challenging time. The use of Microsoft Teams will ensure the hardworking doctors, nurses and support staff across all NHS organisations have the collaboration tools they need to carry out their vital work,” said Cindy Rose, Microsoft UK CEO. “We are hugely appreciative of their ongoing efforts to tackle COVID-19 and will continue to provide support however best we can.”
Two weeks ago, Microsoft highlighted the features it's bringing to Teams to aid healthcare providers. They include the ability to conduct “virtual visits” with patients, a bot to aid assessments, and privacy and security measures.
Since the news has broken (was awaiting full confirmation), and with thanks to the team @NHSX @NHSDigital and @Microsoft responsible, MS teams is now available to the NHS for free. Should help with MDT meetings! https://t.co/sizUbiEKCE
— Simon Eccles (@NHSCCIO) March 18, 2020
All of these features and more will be available for free to the NHS for a limited time and should have now rolled out to all NHSmail users. However. it'll also be available to users who don't utilize NHSmail if they reach out directly to Microsoft.
“Technology is key to supporting patients who are self-isolating and makes sure they have the information they need and access to medical support and advice. For doctors and NHS staff this means that working remotely becomes much easier and more practical,” said Director of Technology at NHS Digital Ian Phoenix.
With bad actors attempting to spear-phish or malware infect vulnerable users, efforts like this do a lot to restore faith in humanity. Microsoft is already offering Microsoft Teams premium to enterprises for free while employees work from home and has had to scale down some Office 365 features as a result. It's also collecting a Covid-19 dataset, while an employee has been one of the first to test a vaccine. It'll be interesting to see what else the company does in the weeks ahead.