Newcastle NHS readies single sign-on roll out

Following a successful pilot, Newcastle’s NHS Trust is about to deploy an integrated IT and building access security systems for 11,000 staff.

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Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has announced it is rolling out new authentication and single sign-on (SSO) technology across the organisation.

The deployment will simplify access to key patient systems and restricted areas throughout the Trust's sites, allowing it to create and enforce a single policy for both IT network and physical security.

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The Trust has chosen Imprivata OneSign appliances to provide centralised SSO and authentication capabilities to its 11,000 clinical and administrative staff.

In addition, as part of a substantial construction and modernisation project, the Trust is implementing new building access control and physical security systems from Honeywell at its three sites across the city.

The SSO technology will link to the new physical network to enforce security policy across the Trust's computing assets. And the Trust is working with IT partner BMS to implement the integrated identity management system.

Michael Mythen, acting deputy head of Information Management and Technology for the Trust said the work would consolidate its physical and network security systems and reduce its management overhead.

"Before Imprivata, each user would have carried around up to three separate smart cards in order to gain access to IT and building resources," he said. "This meant our helpdesk was also having to deal with large numbers of password reset requests: about 55 per cent of all calls through were password-related."

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Following a pilot in January and February this year, the Trust's SSO roll out began with a new application for the Maternity department in March 2008, covering 350 users.

"Staff will only have to use one card for all their access needs with only one associated password," added Mythen. "We expect to reduce the volume of password reset requests by around 90 per cent, as well as improving staff productivity levels."

Staff are issued with a smart card that contains both chip and pin and proximity functionality, so that once users are authenticated, they will automatically be given access to the applications they are allowed to use.

Further groups of employees will join this system as more applications become SSO enabled, and the Trust plans to have its whole user base enrolled by the end of 2008.

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