On the move with mobile authentication – how to break down device barriers to NHS remote access

By April 29, 2020Awards
Working on mobile phone

We’re all used to having multiple devices to manage our workload – mobiles, tablets, memory sticks, laptops – but when information is kept in silos within these devices it makes life that much harder to see the ‘bigger picture’. Even more so for the healthcare environment, where having up to date information at the point of care is so critical. And now, in the current climate of the Covid-19 outbreak, the need for secure remote access to NHS systems on things like personal devices has thrown huge challenges to central bodies like NHSX and the health tech companies supporting the NHS. In this article, we’ll take a look at what challenges there are, and what strategies can and are being put in place to have true NHS remote access, on any device.


From COW to remote consultation – the NHS tech legacy

It’s no secret that the level of digital maturity across NHS organisations varies widely – and that includes the devices that are used across the estate. From the ‘mobile’ computer on wheels (COW) to the virtual consultation, ever since medical records have been put into a computer there have been huge efforts to mobilise information so that clinicians and NHS staff can have access to the health information they need when and wherever they need it. 

The challenge we face is that each type of device, much like the information in them, is not ‘joined up’, in that each device needs some type of support or updating or maintaining, from both IT teams or individuals. Suppliers of devices and software simply can’t support outdated tech going back decades or even a few years now, so the constant challenge for NHS tech teams is to try and support best they can the creaking legacy of devices that are often still in use. 

A ‘mobile first’ approach has been the key strategy for many forward thinking organisations – ensuring that devices are suitable for staff that are predominantly out in the community providing care, such as midwives and community nurses. Recognising that community care was one of the biggest areas suffering from inefficiencies, this is where Isosec has its roots, initially delivering secure remote access to the community through our Mobile Information Access (MIA) app.  Now, our approach is totally cloud based, so our Virtual Smartcard solution, for example, can be deployed quickly to any platform and solve many of the infrastructure challenges around mobile device access maintenance and set up. 


Access denied – keeping device access secure

Having a secure and reliable connection to central systems such as NHS Spine can be a challenge when on the move. And even if remote access is available, users are often having to maintain multiple login credentials to access various systems.  

Many access solutions aren’t available across the various devices that Trusts use. Whilst Windows is the predominant operating system for the NHS, there are many Trusts looking elsewhere for more cost effective, agile solutions for their mobile workers. 

Providing safe, secure and seamless access to key NHS systems whilst on the move is something that Isosec have provided to many NHS Trusts for over the past 15 years. Our device agnostic approach means we’re able to provide secure remote access via a range of tablets, mobiles and devices, including iPads and Google Chromebooks. Many organisations we work with are using our solutions on their range of static and mobile devices, so the experience is the same whether in a healthcare setting or out in the community. 

Let’s take a look at a few customer stories to see how they’ve improved their mobile working strategy.


Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust: keeping on the move

Oxleas is a community and mental health trust that have over 120 bases, where a lot of clinicians are out in the community and need access to information remotely. The challenge they faced was having to return to bases to pick up patient information and then after their patient visits return to base to input information, wasting a lot of time and affecting the patient experience. They implemented Isosec’s Mobile Information Access (MIA) onto their estate of iPads which enables clinicians to access their systems remotely through a secure network. This saves clinicians time and enables them to focus on patient care. Watch the video case study here. 


Kingston council: access for community nurses

Kingston Council have a group of community nurses who are reliant on having access to patient information on the move. Kingston adopted Google Chromebooks as their preferred mobile device, however were having issues in accessing their clinical systems on the devices, and were reliant on physical smartcards which caused more time delays and complications if cards were lost or needed to be issued. Isosec worked in partnership with Google and the council to deliver the Isosec Virtual Smartcard which enabled a secure connection to the clinical system, RiO. Nurses no longer have to rely on a physical card and are able to self serve their smartcard remotely, whilst the Registration Authority back at site can also monitor and maintain the estate of Virtual Smartcards remotely, ensure information governance is adhered to.


Any device, any platform, anywhere

If you’re having challenges in accessing NHS systems on mobile devices, we’d love to hear from you, as our any device, any platform, anywhere approach means we can work in partnership with you to ensure secure, fast, remote access on the move.


Harry Robinson

Author Harry Robinson

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