Insights

Rapid scale of HSCN connectivity for urgent care using Cloud Gateway

10 January 2022

eConsult needed to rapidly scale the capacity of their Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) connection, which had quickly become saturated due to demand. Work to expand that connectivity wasn’t able to happen fast enough, in order to meet Covid-19 challenges, through their incumbent provider. A new perspective was needed, which is where, our Cloud Gateway team, became part of the story. 

Background:

The Covid-19 pandemic brought a massive increase in demand for urgent care and the entire NHS felt the pressure. However, tens of thousands of clinicians who were able to work, were being told to stay at home or self-isolate due to government distancing rules. At home, these clinicians didn’t have the physical hardware needed to securely log in to their clinical systems and were not able to use personal devices to provide consultations and access patient records. The NHS needed a solution to help these medical professionals to remotely provide vital patient care, fast. 

Prior to Covid-19, around 60% of all 111 calls would result in a call back from a GP or nurse, with a growing adoption of video consultations for this service. Since the spread of Covid-19 has dramatically scaled the volume of 111 calls adding to the pressure on primary and urgent care across the board, NHS England and NHS Digital announced that NHS healthcare providers were able to use video conferencing tools, particularly in the short term, to allow consultations to go ahead.

Having supplied video consultation software and services to the NHS for the last few years, predominantly as a workforce solution, the eConsult application provides extra capacity across GPs, clinicians, nurses and many healthcare organisations. Having gone through various approval checks, they were approved by NHS Digital and NHS England to be included in an emergency framework, designed to get remote clinicians back in service whilst practising government safety guidelines. 

With the exponential scale up in the provision of software and services to the NHS, in order to continue to provide vital day-to-day and urgent care services remotely, they needed to scale the capacity of their Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) connection, fast. Work to expand that connectivity , in order to meet Covid-19 challenges, was slow through their incumbent provider. A new perspective was needed. 

Challenge:

  • Massive demand across the entire NHS including urgent care and 111 calls for access to service
  • Healthy clinicians being told to stay at home or self-isolating following government guidelines with no access to clinical systems via the HSCN
  • HSCN Connectivity slow with current provider, to meet service needs

Solution: 

  • Virtual workspace and online video consultation solutions to allow clinicians to continue to treat patients from home
  • End-to-end connectivity platform, PRISM, to connect eConsult software, built in AWS, to the HSCN, from Cloud Gateway
  • A new PRISM tenant with HSCN connectivity provisioned and onboarded within just one week following the first engagement with eConsult

Impact: 

  • 300+ clinicians able to provide remote patient care using the virtual workspace system within 2 days of deployment
  • Improved patient outcomes during this unprecedented time with the ability to treat patients wherever the doctor is based
  • eConsult software solutions are making steps towards NHS England’s target of 30% reduction in face to face outpatient appointments

The Solution & Implementation:

eConsult needed a provider who could advise on the complete end-to-end connectivity solution to connect the software, built in Amazon Web Services (AWS), to the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN). This included connection agreements, IP addressing and routing. 

Working with their engineering team, we set up a working proof of concept within 10 minutes, using cloud-native connectivity platform, PRISM. A new PRISM tenant with HSCN connectivity was provisioned and onboarded within just one week following the first engagement with eConsult. As a cloud-native provider, we were able to provide the visibility, security and guidance needed. 

As soon as the platform had been deployed, eConsult were able to get to work enabling remote clinicians to access clinical systems and provide patient care, wherever they were based. 

Results:

Just a couple of days after the initial deployment in March 2020 of the scalable HSCN connection, eConsult had already enabled 300+ clinicians to provide remote patient care using the virtual workspace system. The future will see exponential adoption by up to tens of thousands of clinicians now working remotely. This will support vastly improved patient outcomes and service accessibility. 

eConsult software solutions are making steps towards the 30% reduction in face to face outpatient appointments, targeted by NHS England. Clinicians, GPs, nurses and many other medical professionals have the ability to provide care, wherever the doctor or patient is based. 

The remote working trend is one that has reached across all industries and is transforming how we work and access services. The use of scalable solutions which enable secure HSCN connectivity provides a new reality for Healthcare providers to operate from any location, securely.

Find out more about Health Connect.

About Q Doctor, part of eConsult:

eConsult exists to make access to medical advice and treatment easier.

Q Doctor founder, Dr Chris Whittle, is an NHS doctor who wanted to make a change to the way people access healthcare. Whether the block was in time (two week wait to see his GP) or convenience (seeing somebody at a time that suits you), the barriers were all too present for people to see someone when they needed to. Chris enlisted help to build a safe, secure, easy to use platform to put doctors and patients together online, keeping NHS founding principles at the forefront of everything that we do. Today the organisation is a group of like-minded professionals providing easy to use video consultations with a growing number of NHS surgeries and organisations.

Q health – the video consultation product tailored for Secondary and Urgent Care – was the first Clinical Assessment Service going live with NHS Digital approved video consulting, and the first specialist service (Cardiology) being delivered over secure video.

Cloud
cloud gateway
Covid-19
Digital health
econsult
health
healthcare
HSCN
HSCN Connectivity
NHS
Myles Clarke