Following market research, County Durham and Darlington soon became aware of how ITHealth helps other NHS organisations with their remote access challenges. The Trust was particularly interested in ITHealth’s ability to integrate their two-factor authentication VPN solution with the NHS smartcard – without requiring any modifications to the smartcard. Staff at the Trust were already familiar with using the smartcard to log-on to clinical systems, so a process that followed a similar approach to gain remote access was very appealing.
Futhermore, ITHealth offered Monitor – a user-friendly connectivity automation tool that works alongside Secure-IT, or indeed any other two-factor authentication solution. By reducing the number of steps required to establish a VPN connection and showing the performance and quality of that connection, Monitor helps users make informed decisions about whether they should attempt to work remotely, information which in turn helps them to optimise their working time.
Prior to using Secure-IT and Monitor, clincians had to work through 5 log-ins. With the new solutions, log-ins reduced to 3 – improving user-friendliness and streamlining workflows, thus saving vital time.
During the more automated log-in process, the Monitor software is set to detect network connectivity, i.e. wired or WiFi; if these are not present Monitor will launch 3G or 4G. It also checks response times from the end point to ensure a ‘good’ connection. The user is advised of signal strength and response times via a traffic light indicator: green for ‘go’, amber for ‘marginal’, and red for ‘there is an unacceptable level of signal and quality of connection present, so do not try to proceed’. Knowing whether a network connection is viable saves time for the mobile clinicians, thereby adding to their productivity and user experience.
As the details of all user connections are saved by the Monitor software, management reports can also be produced to identify which mobile internet service providers are enabling good service, how often staff are receiving a good signal, and also if they have been able to access the required applications.
County Durham and Darlington purchased 1,500 licences with the intention that these would be rolled out to the community clinicians. However, since both the Secure-IT and Monitor software was being so well received amongst the clinical team, the technology was also made available to the corporate team.