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Crescendo Systems, a third-party supplier of digital dictation and clinical records management systems, has become the first organisation to officially gain access to the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN), NHS Digital’s long-awaited replacement for the N3 broadband service.
The connection was supplied by MLL Telecom, one of 15 network and communication services providers to have already achieved HSCN compliance.
“The first live HSCN connection is the culmination of a well-run programme and should be seen as an exemplar for public/private sector engagement,” said MLL business development director for the health sector, Ian Wilcox.
“The approach has enabled NHS Digital’s clear objectives to be realised through an open dialogue, achieving a framework that does not create an insurmountable barrier for small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] to compete alongside the large telecoms firms for HSCN services, and supporting the government’s policy of increasing SME involvement in public sector contracts.”
HSCN is designed to connect not just NHS organisations, but private health and social care practices and other support organisations such as pharmacies, as well as businesses such as Crescendo.
NHS Digital hopes the service will provide a more reliable, efficient, economic and flexible way for health and social care organisations securely access and exchange patient records and other information.
The first NHS organisations lining up to go live in the next couple of months include Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London, and the West Midlands Ambulance Service. NHS Digital will ramp up the rate at which new customers connect to HSCN gradually over the next few months, peaking in mid- to late-2018.
A number of organisations are already engaged in group and individual procurements to this end, and all organisations that had previously connected to N3 are progressing their transition plans, said NHS Digital. Additionally, the Crown Commercial Service is currently running a procurement to establish a dynamic purchasing system framework for data access connections to HSCN to speed up the process of connection for customers.
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“HSCN represents a fantastic opportunity for health and social care integration right across the sector and will allow organisations to collaborate together more closely, which will have a huge benefit for citizen care,” said NHS Digital’s Tom Denwood, senior responsible owner for the HSCN Programme.
“The successful launch sends out the message that HSCN is now open for business and there are so many great benefits that organisations can take advantage of by signing up for the service.”
Dermot Ryan, director of the HSCN Programme at NHS Digital, added: “The first connection to the new HSCN is a critical milestone in the journey towards patient-centred care. Fundamental to this success has been the excellent collaboration between the telecoms industry, customers and NHS Digital.
“We now look forward to more organisations taking advantage of the innovation, cost savings and enhanced security capabilities of the network, and to creating a thriving market for network services in health and social care,” said Ryan.