• The 2gether NHS Foundation Trust - Remote access solution

The Customer

The 2gether NHS Foundation Trust is the main provider of mental and social healthcare in Gloucestershire. The organisation operates out of 99 sites and is split into five clinical Strategic Service Units, employing about 2,000 staff who deliver services to more than 570,000 unique individuals.

At any one time, the Trust provides services to around 10,000 individuals as well as education and support to carers, families and schools.

The Challenge

  • Provide authorised personnel with secure and reliable remote access to sensitive information
  • Safeguard against data loss with multiple layers of security
  • Deliver a cost-effective solution that integrates seamlessly with existing infrastructure

The community-based nature of mental health care service provision demands critical access to clinical records quickly, securely and remotely for more effective care. The introduction of BT's RiO electronic clinical care record system, provided the first phase of meeting this challenge and went live in the Working Age Adults directorate in March 2010.

Tim Mullan, IP telephony systems lead at Gloucestershire, said: "The RiO project provided the catalyst for remote working. We had clinical records electronically hosted and filed but needed the remote access tunnel to complete the picture."

The Solution - SonicWall Aventail SSL Virtual Private Network

After a short tender process, proactive IT service, support and solutions provider, Probrand was appointed for its creative and savings focussed proposal.

"We needed specialist expertise to support our in-house department with an end-to-end solution not just equipment. That's just what we got with Probrand. The team found out exactly what we wanted, didn't get bogged down and has gone on to deliver precisely what we required," Mullan said.

The solution went live in early 2010 and comprises a SonicWall Aventail SSL Virtual Private Network (VPN), which encrypts data traffic, and strong two-factor token-less user authentication using the Swivel platform.

The Aventail VPN has enabled the Trust's IT department to provision users simply by adding them to a relevant Windows security group. Additionally, they can now perform endpoint checks to ensure that remote workers are employing corporate laptops running suitable antivirus protection in line with Trust security policies.

The Benefits - Secure, reliable and easy to manage

Mullan explains: "This has been a big move forward for the Trust. The solution is secure, reliable and easy to manage. We can now provision new users in minutes and we estimate the total cost of ownership to be approximately 60% less than if we had adopted a token based authentication approach.

"We are fundamentally better equipped to deliver service. For example, it has unlocked capability for crisis workers to instantly respond to night-calls from police to help mental health patients exhibiting violent behaviour.

"The remote solution is saving staff hours in time previously spent travelling to input and view locally held clinical notes before being able to deal appropriately with a scenario. The result is swifter response times, more appropriate patient care delivered faster and improved data accuracy."

The new functionality is also improving staff well-being. Mullan continues: "One clinical psychologist told me that it had helped to decrease stress levels as they could access the system and check on patient progress whenever they wanted rather than waking up in the middle of the night worrying.

"Plus, the offering is enabling clinicians to capture information more effectively by writing notes directly into hosted clinical records when they are with a patient rather than relying on memory later. Importantly, patient wellbeing has been enhanced as they no longer have to repeatedly explain often complex mental health issues to multiple clinicians.

"The next phase of the project will be to create a Microsoft Windows Terminal Services farm so that users can access other non-clinical applications using the remote access solution. This initiative is currently in the process of being scoped and is expected to be rolled out by the end of 2011."

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