19 February 2019
Since its launch in 2017, health and social care organisations in the UK have gradually started migrating from the old NHS national network (N3) to its replacement, the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN).
With N3 thought to be no longer fit for purpose, the newer HSCN is defined as providing ‘a reliable, efficient and flexible way for health and social care organisations to access and exchange electronic information’. The idea behind HSCN is that an interoperable ‘network of networks’ gives organisations in the healthcare sector private network connectivity that’s highly reliable and available, while allowing them to access national and local health/social care systems more quickly, easily and securely than ever before.
For the NHS as a whole, the HSCN will play a huge part in helping it to achieve its ongoing digital transformation ambitions, including other initiatives aimed at transforming health and social care like Paperless 2020. And for the individual health organisations and departments making the migration (as well as for the millions of patients at the receiving end of care) the benefits also stack up.
Improved integration means improved services
That the NHS is ‘in crisis’ will be news to no-one. One of many recent reports includes the alarming discovery that the NHS is carrying out far fewer operations than it could be because of fundamental inefficiencies in operating room management (as well as the underlying issues of both staff and bed shortages). Meanwhile, it’s thought that the ‘deepening staff crisis’ and ‘continued cuts to public health’ could be hampering the NHS’ ability to invest in cutting-edge, life-saving technologies. Barely a day goes by in the UK without more news of this sort.
The good news about the HSCN is that having an integrated, standardised service will help health and social care organisations make strides towards delivering much more joined-up services to patients. With up-to-date medical records – whether nationally or locally held – easier to share and access, patients can be dealt with far more efficiently and effectively. Meanwhile, there’s less room for delay or error.
Connectivity that’s cost effective, reliable and flexible
Another big tick for the next generation of healthcare connectivity offered by the HSCN is that it’s more cost effective, reliable and flexible than the out-of-date legacy network it’s replacing (N3). It facilitates a much greater degree of collaboration between health and social care organisations, as well as the delivery of truly digitally enabled services.
What’s more, since HSCN acts like a single network, but is provided by multiple certified suppliers (such as Gamma), connectivity costs are kept down without compromising quality of service. This also means that healthcare organisations are no longer inclined to rely on connectivity that’s perhaps less secure just because it’s cheaper – meaning data is not only quicker to access and share, but better protected. And since suppliers are held to a defined set of industry standards, our customers in the healthcare sector can be sure of reliable connectivity, ongoing innovation, access to the latest technologies, and high quality customer service.
Safe, secure and future-ready
The HSCN has been designed especially to meet the requirements of an evolving, digitally advanced healthcare industry. That’s why a degree of security is plugged in as standard, with comprehensive monitoring and analysis capabilities built in to the network. This means network users can detect unusual activity in real time via a central portal and resolve issues much more promptly than they might otherwise have been able to.
Of course, users will also need to implement their own regulatory compliant security controls – including data encryption services – but it’s reassuring for health and social care organisations to know that HSCN provides secure foundations for the exchange of highly sensitive patient data.
All of this makes HSCN a truly future-ready solution for health and social care organisations wanting to protect against escalating cyber threats while significantly improving the provision of care.