UCLH NHS Foundation Trust uses smart cards to enhance security of patient information in IDX Carecast

London 23 December 2005University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) is one of the first health care trusts in the United Kingdom to use smart cards in conjunction with an electronic patient records system in the inpatient environment. Smart cards are being widely used in the United Kingdom to support access to other types of related health care technology, such as e-booking capabilities. As health care trusts begin to implement electronic patient records systems in a more widespread fashion, smart cards provide an enhanced level of security to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to patients' demographic and medical information. UCLH is using the cards to support secure access to the IDX Carecast electronic patient records system. UCLH and IDX completed a successful smart card pilot on November 21st, 2005, and the technology is currently being used by more than 30 Trust employees, with plans to roll out smart cards to additional UCLH staff and clinicians in 2006.


"While electronic health records enable us to provide higher quality patient care, we are also sensitive to patients' concerns about the privacy and security of their records", stated UCLH Chief Executive Robert Naylor. "Our smart card authentication system has been designed to meet best practice security guidelines for protecting access to electronic records."

IDX developed the user authentication system to support smart card deployment with Carecast at UCLH, supporting a highly secure and efficient log-in process for staff and clinicians. The smart card system includes three layers of security: the smart card itself, a personal password and role-based access within the Carecast system. The smart cards will be phased in to replace an existing approach that was solely password-based. To access Carecast, an employee inserts his or her card into a card reader attached to the computer. The employee then enters a personal password in order to log on to Carecast. All access to information in Carecast is role-based, so users see only that portion of the information they need to perform their jobs.

UCLH went live on the first phase of Carecast in June of this year, with the patient administration system (PAS), including functions in the Accident & Emergency and Maternity departments. The activation encompassed UCLH's eight hospitals, including the new state-of-the-art University College Hospital. The activation required converting approximately 1,5 million patient records to Carecast, and since then the system has been processing about 250.000 transactions every day. Leading a team of specialized subcontractors, IDX also worked with UCLH to install the infrastructure for one of the nation's largest wireless networks to link clinicians and staff across eight London hospitals.

"Smart cards are a simple, effective, and very visible means of protecting the privacy and security of medical records, and IDX has built a streamlined and cost-effective authentication tool to support smart card use with our electronic patient record software", stated Rob Baker, Managing Director, IDX UK. "Ultimately, the success of electronic health records depends in part on patients' confidence in the security of their personal health information. UCLH's adoption of smart cards will help lead the way for patients to embrace the benefits of electronic records." The smart cards in use at UCLH are provided by Gemplus, a world leading smart card provider.

UCLH NHS Foundation Trust is one of the United Kingdom's largest providers of health care services, medical research and training. Its hospitals provide acute and surgical services for local people, commuters and visitors to London as well as highly specialised services to patients referred from all over the country. It includes University College Hospital, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Obstetric Hospital, Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Eastman Dental Hospital, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, The Heart Hospital and The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital.

More news on IDX Carecast can be found in this VMW issue's article St. Vincent's Medical Center upgrades to next-generation IDX Carecast.

Leslie Versweyveld

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