Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

Instantly accessing key network insights to inform decision-making and effectively allocate resource

Overview

Where networks were once built around a single data-centre, they are now a complex web of cloud applications, PCs, laptops, mobile phones, tablets – the list goes on. The problem for IT professionals is that as networks expand it becomes increasingly difficult to retain full visibility of them. Here we learn how Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust implemented a solution that provides a single source for all key infrastructure requirements to swiftly and reliably inform risk management decision-making.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) provides services to over 2.5 million residents of Nottingham and its surrounding communities, as well as specialist services to a further 3-4 million people from across the region. As one of the largest regional employers, it has 16,700 staff at Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham City Hospital and Ropewalk House, with a total of 90 wards and around 1,700 beds.

Challenge

The NUH Digital Services IT teams found they were increasingly being asked for key network information, for example: How many end user devices exist on the network? What versions of operating systems do these devices run on? When were the devices last patched? With three large campuses and a complex and diverse IT estate, the answers were not always easy for the IT teams to obtain and collating the information could be time-consuming. Naturally, all the relevant network data was being captured and recorded but, as is true of many NHS organisations, the information resided in different places – often within a variety of tools and systems with different divisions looking after each.

The Trust wanted to improve visibility of its infrastructure so it could more easily access key data to service queries more readily and improve its understanding
of connected network assets and associated vulnerabilities. It also wanted to cut down the number of man-hours spent performing routine audits and IT reporting.

Solution

NUH undertook a Proof of Concept (POC) of ITHealth’s Assurance Dashboard Solution. The Trust could quickly see how the Dashboard provided visibility of its complete infrastructure and connected assets that it had been lacking.

“The wealth of network insight displayed in the Dashboard is something we have never had before. We no longer worry about where to go to get information about the infrastructure – we go straight to the Dashboard and find it’s there,” said Craig White, Senior Technical Support Officer, NUH. “Plus, because the information is all in the same place it’s in a consistent format that’s simple to understand,” added David Westwood, NUH’s Infrastructure Support Manager.

As the Dashboard Solution is frequently scanning the network, the information displayed on all connected network assets is in near real-time and in a dynamic risk-based context, so the truest possible state of the network is always presented. The speed in which the Trust can now access key network information to assist management meetings and facilitate decision-making has been vastly improved. Example scenario:

11.03AM:    Email request sent to David and the Infrastructure Team: ‘Can we get a report of all PCs and filtered on Maternity?’

11:06AM:    Report emailed back so management could respond to a question raised within a meeting.

Craig White confirmed how the Dashboard’s exportable data also helps with resource allocation and workflows. “The Dashboard makes it easy to allocate workload lists to the team. For example, you can pull a list of endpoints which require updated Adobe versions, or a list of devices that don’t have anti-virus and need it installing. The lists are all there in the Dashboard and ready to action.”

As well as using the Dashboard for its primary function of maintaining cyber security, Craig White confirmed how the technical support team now also use it to manage the Trust’s stock inventory.

Results

The service is thrilled with the speed in which they can now access a granular level of detail of infrastructure information – from a single source, at any time, in
almost real-time. The Trust use the Dashboard daily to interrogate the network and facilitate queries, and swiftly supply supporting evidence when required to facilitate key decision-making.

Time is saved on resource due to network information being automatically collated and consolidated, and worklists easily downloadable and acted upon. As
ITHealth fulfils the Trust with comprehensive monthly assurance reports highlighting key stats, figures, trends and more, time spent on IT reporting is also significantly reduced.

In terms of next steps, David confirmed that the Trust are on an early journey with ITHealth to understand the same granular level of detail about their network connected medical devices and inventory.

“We’re creating a tab within the Dashboard for NUH to give our colleagues visibility of their connected medical devices,” confirmed Chris Booth, Account Manager, ITHealth. “Medical devices could be linked to a machine running legacy software that’s required for the device to function. It’s all about giving NUH a greater understanding of the infrastructure so they can secure and manage it more effectively.”

NUH are also looking forward to the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT) developments being introduced to the Dashboard. ITHealth are creating reports within the Dashboard that link specifically to DSPT evidence items, so required information can be accessible in just a few clicks and available not only at the time of audit but all year round.

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