Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust is testing a remote access solution for midwives using a new “office on stick” from Nortel.

The trust is giving eight community midwives their own, lightweight Dell laptops with 3G wireless datacards so they can access medical notes and capture key data from patient’s homes.

They will get access to the trust’s core systems through a “secure portable office” key that will authenticate their identity, establish a secure network connection and then launch a virtual desktop with a menu of authorised network applications on it.

The key can be held on a USB stick, but trust IT director Dr Zafar Chaudry says it has built it into the laptop, because a “USB stick is too easy to lose” and could snap off in a port, making the laptop unusable.

“At the moment, our midwives are using paper records,” he says. “If they need access to our systems they can go into clinics and use our Meditech system there, but they don’t often do that.

“We really need to capture more information from them. So we started looking for a remote access solution about four months ago. We went to Nortel because they are our partners for our local area network. They showed us this and we thought it would solve the problem that we had.”

Dr Chaudry told E-Health Insider that the trust had considered a Citrix-based solution, but had decided it would be too complex and expensive.

“We started working with Nortel and they helped us to configure the system and changed some of the screens in Meditech so they capture the information we need. We have completed the technical solution and our midwives have been in for training.

“They still need to come in and pick up their laptops, which will be specific to them. Then we will go live with our first eight midwives.” The midwives will use a fingerprint scan to open the Nortel portal and a further scan to access the trust’s applications.

Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust plans to run the trial for 30-40 days. It has bought the system for 75 midwives and will roll it out to them once any lessons from the trial have been learned.

“We have already learned some things from the midwives,” says Dr Chaudry. “For example, we were going to give them laptop bags, but they wanted to put the laptops into sleeves so they could carry them in an ordinary backpack. They felt that carrying a laptop bag could make them a target for thieves.

“One of the things we are expecting to look at is workflow: is it best to use the laptop throughout a session with a patient, or at the end, or to update records later? It is going to be fun seeing what people actually do with this.”

The trust is taking other measures to secure data. It is working through the recommendations issued by the foundation trust regulator, Monitor, and seeking ISO 27001 accreditation.

It is also about to announce a USB stick amnesty. “We are going to roll out biometric [USB sticks],” says Dr Chaudry. “We think people won’t bring their old sticks in unless we give them a nice, shiny something in return.”



Press release