Enabling clinicians to focus on patient care with single sign-on from Imprivata

Key Facts

Industry: Healthcare

Location: Gateshead, UK

Beds: 580


  • Time spent on repetitive, manual logins
  • Clinician frustration
  • Manual application profiling process


  • Reduced login times
  • More time spent with patients
  • Quick profiling and deployment of applications

Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust

Based in the north east of England, Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust employs around 3,400 staff and currently provides 580 hospital beds across the region. Established in 2005, it was one of the first Foundation Trusts in the country and continues to consistently deliver the highest levels of care to its patients.

Business challenge

Healthcare systems and applications are critical to the delivery of high quality clinical care. However, each system and application can have its own login credentials, which caused clinical users at Gateshead Health to become increasingly frustrated with the time needed to log in and out of multiple applications.

Mhairi Rooney, Head of IT at the Trust explains, “Increasingly our IT systems underpin our ability to deliver excellent patient care, for which the Trust has become known. The Trusts investment in state-of-the-art facilities relies upon a secure, robust IT infrastructure that supports our clinicians and administration staff, freeing them up to focus on attending to patients.”

Pockets of the Trust had been successfully using Imprivata OneSign® for single sign-on (SSO) since 2009, and newly appointed IT Project Manager at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, Clare Jones, saw an opportunity to widen the deployment and address clinician frustrations.

Jones explains, “Clinical users are at the front line of patient care and when time is of the essence, the three minutes required to log in to applications several times a day was an understandable frustration. We already had Imprivata but hadn’t fully exploited the functionality across the entire Trust.”

The solution

Small teams within the Trust were already using Imprivata OneSign with smart cards, which proved to significantly reduce the time needed to log in to applications and systems. However, not all employees are issued with smart cards. Jones and her team identified an opportunity to leverage and extend the proven investment to a larger community within the hospital by using two-factor authentication technology to provide secure access to desktops and clinical applications via proximity card readers, using employees existing ID and access control cards.

Jones explains, “Not every employee within the Trust has a smart card, but everyone has an ID card which also doubles as our building access control. By using Imprivata proximity card readers, we have been able to expand the benefits of Imprivata OneSign and provide quick and secure access to clinical applications without the additional overhead of issuing smart cards and maintaining another system.”

The benefits were instantaneous and the feedback unanimously positive. The solution proved so popular that, at the request of clinicians and caregivers, the pilot was extended to the whole of Accident & Emergency (A&E).

Jones comments, “In our experience of piloting solutions, IT teams generally have to persuade clinical staff to give new systems a chance. Not with Imprivata OneSign – users immediately accepted the new processes because their working lives had become easier. In a pressurised environment like A&E, every minute counts and we had just saved clinicians valuable time enabling them to focus more on patient care.”

Neil Halford, Lead Consultant in Emergency Medicine says, “The A&E department deals with life-threatening cases daily and clinicians need to be able to respond to situations quickly. Having fast, easy and secure access to clinical applications has really made a difference to our ability to deliver the best care possible, even in the most challenging circumstances.”

No Click Access to kiosk machines

Kiosk machines are workstations that are limited to clinical applications only and have web access restricted to defined healthcare sites. This ensures the workstations cannot be monopolised for administration purposes and are purely for clinical use.

To increase awareness of the Imprivata solution and encourage enrolment, the Trust’s mobile workstations were upgraded with proximity card readers early in the project deployment to enable No Click Access® to the desktop and applications. The workstations also allow for fast user switching without the need for users to quit applications before they log out.

Jones comments, “When people saw how quickly and easily their colleagues could access applications, just by tapping their badge onto card readers to log in and out of systems, they wanted to be on board.”

Comprehensive application profiling

The hospital utilises many critical systems that clinicians and caregivers access several times a day, including System C’s Medway EPR and Vitalpac, Sunquest ICE Order Communications and Results Reporting, and Civica’s WinDIP.

By utilising SSO profiles, users can be linked to specific applications so that clinicians can access them through the ‘tap and go’ system. With Imprivata, current and future applications can be profiled by the IT department without the need for coding or extensive system administration.

The Trust used the Imprivata Application Profile Generator, a simple GUI-based tool that allows ‘drag and drop’ SSO profiling of applications. With this product, the IT team could profile the applications quickly and deploy them on kiosk machines.

Results and benefits

The solution has been deployed in phases to approximately 1500 clinical users with overwhelmingly positive feedback. The improved workflows have enabled fast and secure access to clinical applications, saving time and eliminating potentially insecure workarounds.

The process of tapping an ID badge to log in and log out of applications and desktops is now becoming ingrained across the Trust. In addition, the Imprivata solution has been configured to ‘fade to lock’ so that sessions are automatically closed when the clinician leaves the screen, even if they don’t physically tap out. This has increased adherence to Information Governance policies and raised awareness of security practices. Imprivata OneSign has also improved the audit trail, ensuring diagnostic requests and updates to clinical records are attributed to the correct user.

Rob Allcock, CCIO and consultant chest physician said, “As a busy hospital physician, speed of access to the patient record is essential for providing safe, high quality care. Using Imprivata OneSign for access to clinical applications enables me to be much more productive during ward rounds and lets me concentrate on clinical issues without the barriers of repeated logins getting in the way. It solves longstanding problems with slow IT access whilst also ensuring that confidential data remains secure.”

On the back of the success the IT team have commenced a new project to implement Imprivata OneSign Self-Service Password Reset, a solution that enables users to reset their own passwords, quickly, easily, and securely. Although it is early days in this phase of the project, it is anticipated that calls to the service desk will reduce, freeing IT staff to work on higher value calls and saving money.

Jones concludes, “We have achieved our goals of increasing adherence to Information Governance, raising awareness of security practices and improving audit trails, whilst delivering immediate benefits to clinical system users. The Imprivata solution has enabled us to streamline workflows, resulting in quick, easy, and secure access to applications for clinicians and caregivers, providing more time for patient care, which ultimately is always our top priority.”