Hounslow Trust targets efficiencies with remote access to clinical data

Mobile health workers will use Rio system to access data in the field

Hounslow Primary Care Trust is to give clinicians remote access to a new clinical information system to improve the way that healthcare practitioners store, maintain and update patient records.

The Rio system will also remove the need for the notes made by mobile health workers to be copied into clinical information systems by back-office staff.

Child-health workers at the West London NHS trust will be the first to access electronic patient records using laptops equipped with 3G cards.

Some 100 practitioners will use the system from late November. A further 500 practitioners, such as therapists, health visitors, school nurses and district nurses, will be given remote access to the Rio system over the next 12 months.

IT managers at Hounslow Primary Care Trust have worked with the heads of clinical services to identify how practitioners and other trust workers will benefit from remote access to records. Among other advantages, it is expected that remote access will improve patient care in the field and reduce back-­office updating of patient records.

Trust IT manager Graeme Hollocks said, "Remote working had originally been requested by our executive team but the cost could not be justified. However, with Rio in the pipeline, the deployment and investment required for a remote working policy was justified."

Rio replaces Hounslow's previous clinical information system, which Hollocks said was not used very well.

Systems integrator Scalable Networks will provide the mobile access to Rio and other applications, such as the Microsoft ­Office suite.

With security a priority, access to the system will incorporate two-factor authentication technology, with practitioners having to enter their network log-in followed by a second log-in supplied by a one-time password generating token from supplier Vasco. Hounslow will use this for all its remote users.

Hollocks said, "The technology is putting a screenshot on your laptop. It is not putting any live data on your laptop."

The first 100 staff to go live with remote Rio will be equipped with laptops costing £1,200 each. Including the 3G cards, it will take the cost of the first implementation to £140,000.

The trust's IT budget met the cost of the mobile deployment, but the Rio application was developed and supplied free of charge by the NHS National Programme for IT.


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