Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust

Transition to ‘soft’ remote access tokens to save costs and improve efficiencies

Overview

To deliver improved patient care clinicians need the ability to access patient records anywhere at any time in every healthcare environment. Yet, secure remote access and mobile working can be a huge challenge, as well as being very costly. Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust wanted to simplify remote access for its mobile workers to improve both cost and productivity, yet not compromise security.

NHS clinician using technology

Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust runs a district general hospital providing high quality health care for the people of Huntingdonshire and surrounding areas. More than 160,000 people rely on its range of acute hospital services. The hospital has 304 beds, as well as 23 cabins located in the Treatment Centre. Hinchingbrooke is a member of Cambridge University Health Partners supporting excellence in healthcare, research and education for the people of Cambridgeshire and beyond.

Challenge

Every NHS Trust wants to maximise the efficiency of their staff, especially those that work both on-site and remotely. These staff members need to be able to access all of their online resources wherever they are at any given moment.

Secure Remote Access using a VPN is the widely accepted solution. In order to secure the connection, two-factor authentication (2FA) is required.

The use of physical or ‘hard’ security tokens is the established approach and works well, but it does create some issues for IT teams as follows:

  • Inventory: Trusts need to hold stock to make sure there are always tokens available. Holding stock ties up part of the budget.
  • Time: Before a staff member can be enabled for remote access they have to physically have the token, which means it either has to be sent to them or they have to collect it from the IT base.
  • Cost: Hard tokens can get lost or broken. Eventually the battery will run out.
  • Management: When a staff member leaves their token needs to be returned to the IT base.
  • User convenience: It’s another device the staff member has to remember to carry with them.

Solution

After examining and understanding the specific requirements of the team at Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust, ITHealth recommended the adoption of ‘soft’ security tokens in the form of an ‘app’ that is supported within the Trust’s existing Secure-IT secure remote access solution.
Using Secure-IT’s self-service portal, a user can easily download and activate the ‘app’ onto any device, including smartphones and tablets. Once activated, access is granted through a pin number. There’s no need to post a hard token or arrange a visit to the IT team which means staff can be added to the solution much more quickly and easily.

Results

The transition to soft-tokens has benefitted Hinchinbrooke in the following ways:

  • Increased productivity – No need for time-consuming appointments and unproductive trips for staff to be issued with a hard token.
  • Total flexibility – Enables staff to be more efficient and effective.
  • Budget – No need to hold a stock of hard tokens to cover loss and new implementations, resulting in cost-savings and improved cash flow.
  • Cost – Soft tokens are less expensive than hard tokens, so switching to soft tokens saves money.
  • Device reduction – Mobile workers carry one less device, increasing user satisfaction, reducing risk and further reducing costs.
  • Agility – New staff are added to the solution quickly, reducing dead time and improving performance. This is especially useful in emergency situations such as poor weather conditions or major event circumstances when new users can be enabled simply and can download the ‘app’ themselves onto their smart technology.

Hinchingbrooke now have more than 200 users of the ITHealth Secure-IT solution. Since the change, new users are typically issued with soft rather than hard tokens and can enjoy the benefits discussed above.