Best Practice: 3 tips for single sign-on success in an NHS Context

 The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust (Royal Liverpool) says an implementation of secure access and collaboration software has substantially improved productivity, allowing clinicians to spend less time on authenticating to the system and more time with patients.  Following the implementation of a clinical portal that allows a single view of a patient's information aggregated from 200 disparate clinical and administration systems, Royal Liverpool required a single sign-on to enable users fast and secure access to all systems without the need to log-on to each application separately. It selected the Imprivata OneSign package to achive this, a system that went live around 18 months ago across two sites covering 5,000 users as part of a shift from paper to electronic patient records (EPRs).  Imprivata OneSign allows an authorised user to log-in just once and be granted access to all applications required for that person's role. Following completion of the project, clinicians have spent up to 30-40 minutes less per day accessing data; Royal Liverpool estimates that as a result, up to two minutes are saved per patient from a data-entry perspective.  The Trust has achieved its return on investment in just one year as a result of workflow efficiency improvements, strongly positioning Royal Liverpool to meet targets set out by the Department of Health╒s Quality, Innovation, Production and Prevention (QIPP) programme.   Following the success of the project to date, Royal Liverpool plans to extend OneSign to support a virtual desktop deployment which will enable mobile clinical workers to securely access patient data on-the-go. Plans are also underway to combine legacy smart card technology with the OneSign solution, offering second factor authentication across the hospital sites.  James Norman, Director of Information Management and Technology at the Trust, told that the simplified and streamlined access had led to significant improvements in staff workflow and productivity, which had translated to cost savings as well as improved patient care across the board.  In terms of best practice for other organisations trying to do something similar, he advises the following:

 Understand how the technology is used 'at the coalface'

"There are different ways you can deploy the software - either on a PC, or in kiosk mode for busy ward areas, for example. There's no point in pushing out the PC client only to find that people on the ward can't use it."

 Think about resilience

"You become highly dependent on the system working. You can't afford to have staff moving onto a single sign in and for the system not to work. We've invested a lot in our infrastructure in the last 18 months to cope with how we will be moving forward digitally."

 Push at any and all 'open doors'

"You need to give clinicians something that works better than what they have already got. That way, when it comes to implementing the technology, you're pushing at an open door."