PC Advisor: Lincolnshire NHS cuts costs with smartcards


NHS Lincolnshire is expanding its use of smartcards in a range of new ways to help improve services and reduce costs.  Smartcards in the health sector are now being used for electronic discharge procedures, instead of printing off paper documents, and for virtual private network (VPN) access, without the use of more expensive network tokens.  By avoiding tokens, Lincolnshire NHS reckons it will save £100,000 over five years in acute settings, and a much greater £300,000 a year in community settings.  Nigel Gay, assistant director of ICT operations at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, said: "We wanted to integrate as many uses of the card as possible, so it means staff have to carry the card with them, thus helping reduce the risk of sharing and increase information governance compliance."  Smartcards are also now being used by managers to access the electronic staff record system, and in addition they are being more widely re-used for door access in care buildings, to allow staff easier transfers between departments.  NHS Lincolnshire added that smartcards are also being used to provide physical staff identification, cutting out the need for a separate card at £5.50 a time, which if deployed for 7,500 staff would equate to a saving of over £41,000.  On top of these extra uses, smartcards are now being used for car park access, cashless vending among staff, and for a single sign-on system for PCs/laptops and applications, which will help reduce pressure on the organisation's helpdesk.  Gay said support calls were reduced through integrated uses as staff only have to remember a pin code similar to their bank card. Gay said: "We have also found that by making greater use of the smartcard we have been able to reduce the number of identity checks staff are required to do to obtain various forms of ID in order to do their job."  Last year, it was announced that all patient health records at Scotland's 1,300 GP practices and 97 hospitals were to be secured using Imprivata's desktop single sign-on system.