South Manchester NHS boosts antenatal care with wireless devices for midwives

Aruba Networks, a global provider of 802.11n wireless LANs and secure mobility solutions, has announced that the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM) is using Arubas Virtual Branch Networking (VBN) solution to increase the quality of antenatal services delivered to the local community.

UHSM has equipped its community midwives with VBN-based Remote Access Points (RAPs) to provide easy-to-use yet highly secure remote access to maternity records during community visits.  Access to the records helps midwives assess the status and health of expectant mothers, improving the delivery process and post-delivery care of both mother and baby.

UHSM is a major acute teaching hospital trust with services provided at both the Withington and Wythenshawe Community Hospitals, with the latter providing special antenatal services at a dedicated on-site clinic. The challenge faced by UHSM was how to provide midwives with up-to-date hospital records when they met with expectant mothers off site, such as at regional Sure Start Childrens Centres or charity-owned offices throughout the South Manchester area.  Access to patient records is tightly regulated in the UK and many other countries, and strict adherence to privacy and security regulations is compulsory.

Arubas VBN technology overcomes this challenge by securely extending UHSMs patient record network off site. Midwives are provided with inexpensive RAPs which provide secure, authenticated remote access to UHSMs data centre.  Controllers in the data centre handle all VBN-related configuration, management, and security tasks. Centralising these services in the controllers simplifies the design and installation of the RAPs.  And by enabling midwives to work remotely with the same secure access to the healthcare network as they would have in the hospital, VBN allows them to remotely access patient records while adhering to government privacy and security regulations.

VBN provides visiting midwives with instant and encrypted access to medical records, appointment booking systems, and any other information held on the Trusts network to which they have been granted access, said Ray Burdge, IT Infrastructure Manager at UHSM. The system is exceptionally easy to use as there are no user-adjusted software or hardware controls.  Instead the RAPs automatically connect to USHMs central network and all security policies are implemented and managed by the Trusts own IT team. We now have the security of a Virtual Private Network without its attendant cost or complexity.  Our community midwives get instant secure access to maternity records, while expectant mums know that their midwife will have full access to their most current records regardless of where the consultation takes place.

UHSM originally installed an Aruba wireless LAN in 2007 to support mobile clinical workstations. Following successful deployment of the workstations, the Trust added new applications to the Wi-Fi network including Picture Archiving Communication Systems (PACs), pharmacy ward-based stock control and ordering, and Computers on Wheels (COWs).  The new VBN application is the first to extend the network outside of the Trusts own facilities.

Sound healthcare should originate in the places where we work and live, and UHSM has a highly successful formula for delivering community health services by leveraging its considerable IT infrastructure, said Bob Vickers, Arubas UK sales director. VBN allows resources originally intended for in-house use to be securely extended into the community, and patients benefit greatly as a result. They receive individualised, quality care that is economically delivered. This is a model programme and one that will no doubt be widely emulated.



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