Notts trust to improve patient data with remote access for clinical staff

Nottinghamshire NHS Trust is rolling out technology to give its 6,500 staff secure remote access to medical records and other hospital systems.

Nottinghamshire NHS Trust is rolling out technology to give its 6,500 staff secure remote access to medical records and other hospital systems.

The trust, which specialises in mental health, said the system would improve patient care by allowing clinicians to update records immediately following a consultation.

"It will make a huge difference to the guys in the field. Previously they would have to write their notes up on a laptop and transfer the data at the end of the day. There is obviously a huge time lag with this, meaning records are out of date," said Steve Wilkes, systems manager at Nottinghamshire NHS Trust.

The trust has a large number of mobile workers, and it works closely with partner agencies, who need to have access to the trust's computer systems.

Staff also often work from temporary offices that are not connected to the trust's networks.

The trust has invested in a Citrix Client Access Gateway, which allows staff to access computer systems from a remote PC via an internet browser.

Wilkes said one of the biggest challenges was ensuring the system, which provides access to sensitive medical data, was secure and could only be accessed by authorised staff.

To this end, the trust has issued staff with two-factor authentication tokens which generate a random password when staff type in a Pin. Once access to the hospital network is gained, the password is used to access applications.

The system also ensures security by scanning the end-user's computer to ensure it has appropriate anti-virus and firewalls before allowing it to connect to the network. It has been configured to give users diallling in from insecure computers permission to view documents while blocking downloading.

The hardware also allows IT staff to access the trust's IT systems remotely for maintenance through a secure virtual private network.

"We can do the same work from home in the evening or at the weekend that we would have to do from an office. If there is a problem, it means our guys do not have to drive 15 miles to fix it," said Wilkes.

It took Nottinghamshire NHS Trust three months to install and configure the access gateway hardware and software. It will roll it out to staff over the next few months.

www.computerweekly.com/npfit

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