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UK: ANSecurity has announced a successful project with Northern Doctors Urgent Care to deliver a secure remote access solution helping teleworking clinicians to deliver patient care more effectively.

Northern Doctors Urgent Care (NDUC), part of the Vocare group delivers urgent care and out-of-hours GP services to 1.5 million patients in the North East of England including Northumberland, Teesside, North and South Tyneside and Newcastle. In addition, NDUC manage the North East NHS 111 service, in partnership with the North East Ambulance Service – delivering the service across the entire region to over 2.5 million people.

With 3300 staff, 9 call centres and over 40 additional sites; Vocare is a true 24 hour a day operation utilising a range of skilled professionals and critical systems vital for delivering its high quality healthcare services to patients and commissioners.

Behind the scenes, just a 9 strong IT department manages its networking and critical applications including Adastra, a clinical patient management system designed specifically to manage episodes of care including unscheduled telephone advice and face-to-face care settings.

Having grown rapidly over the last few years after taking over a larger direct workload from the NHS, NDUC has like many public sector funded organisations faced difficulties with budgets and recruitment.  To meet both drivers, NDUC has endeavoured to use IT to enable beneficial working options such as teleworking with remote access to key application and telephony to allow clinical staff to work effectively from anywhere in the country – and in one case, from overseas.

As David Harrop, Network Manager for Vocare explains, “The number of remote users we have had to support has grown from under 10 to over 200 over the last 9 years and this pattern looks likely to accelerate in the next few years.”

The Vocare IT department has previously delivered a limited access service using IPSEC based connectivity to a small fleet of company issued laptops. However, with the growing demands for access, Harrop and his team began a project to switch to a BYOD based service and upgrade its core infrastructure to meet the challenge.

“We are a highly technical, multi-skilled team but what we wanted was some expert advice around specifying the right equipment, configuration advice and an external validation of our security policies,” says Harrop, “ANSecurity provided just what we needed in terms of skills and were able to help us with implementation to ensure the solution was secure and meeting best practice.”

The new solution implemented Juniper SRX Series Firewalls with Pulse Secure Connect Secure appliances including its endpoint integrity assessment technology to check and remediate end user devices prior to authentication. Connect Secure offers SSL VPN access with increased protection for its BYOD users against local malware. Access control was further strengthened by an RSA based two-factor-authentication solution and Pulse Secure Access portal solution to allow streamlined application distribution and per user policy based application control. NDUC also deployed a VoIP telephony solution from Shoretel to allow assistance calls to be routed from the call centre teams to clinicians using just an internet connection.

“The end result is that we have a system in place now that makes it easier for us to connect our clinical staff with patients to deliver the highest quality care,” says Harrop, “The system is secure, easy to use and able to scale and it’s fair to say that ANSecurity played a vital role in helping us achieving this successful result.”