About NHS Tower Hamlets
NHS Tower Hamlets is a primary care trust that funds and manages primary healthcare within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. In addition to its other responsibilities, the Trust provides centralized IT support and services for 36 general practices and 12 health centers across the Borough, supporting approximately 2,800 users.
To provide a more consistent level of service to users at all locations, NHS Tower Hamlets decided to centralize a number of IT services, such as file/print, e-mail and office productivity applications. Instead of logging in to local networks, users working at general practices and health centers would access the Trust's main corporate domain.
"As a result of the IT centralization strategy our user-base increased dramatically, to more than 2,800 users," said Greg Peacock, ICT Manager at NHS Tower Hamlets. "This made user management a much more complex proposition, and we realized that it wouldn't be practical to continue handling processes such as creating, editing and deactivating user accounts manually. We needed a proper identity management solution."
In addition to integrating with Microsoft Active Directory, which provides directory services for the Trust's main systems, the new solution needed to be able to connect to the NHS Electronic Staff Record application (ESR), which manages human resources data for all Trust employees and contractors.
NHS Tower Hamlets selected Identity Manager, which was available under an enterprise-wide agreement (EWA) between NHS Connecting for Health (CfH) and us.
"The EWA meant that we didn't need to pay for software licenses—so the only cost of the project for Tower Hamlets was the implementation itself," said Peacock. "Better still, Novell (now a part of Micro Focus) has designed a solution called the Identity Management Baseline, which is designed specifically for the NHS and simplifies integration with ESR. This helped us minimize the complexity of the project and reduce time to value."
The Trust chose to work with Salford Software to complete the implementation. "We had previously worked with Salford Software's account manager on a single sign-on project, and we were impressed with their technical competence and project management skills," said Peacock. "When we heard that they were one of Novell's key partners for the Baseline solution, we were confident that they would be the right team for the job."
In preparation for the project, the Trust's in-house IT team performed a meticulous analysis to match user records in Active Directory to those in the ESR system. Using this data, the consultants from Salford Software were able to drive the project forward very rapidly, and moved the solution into production within just 10 weeks.
"The go-live of phase one of the Identity Manager deployment project was a great success, and we were able to introduce a number of useful functionalities," said Peacock. "Users now have the ability to manage their personal information and passwords. And from a security perspective, deactivating user accounts when an employee leaves the Trust is a much easier process."
In phase two, the Trust plans to introduce automated provisioning for new user accounts, which should help to reduce workload for the IT team even further.
Identity Manager is already playing a key role in helping NHS Tower Hamlets safeguard data relating to patients and medical practice. By making it easier to ensure that a user's access rights are assigned accurately, maintained correctly, and revoked as soon as he/she leaves the organization, the solution reduces the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive information.
NHS Tower Hamlets also benefits from the solution's reporting capabilities, which enable the Trust to demonstrate a high level of information governance. If the IT team is asked to compile a list of all users who work at a certain location, or who have access to a certain system, Identity Manager can provide the information accurately and immediately. This not only helps to meet regulatory requirements for information security, but also helps the IT team analyze the user-base for each application to ensure compliance with software licensing agreements.
In the second phase of the project, the solution should also deliver significant operational cost savings. Identity Manager will enable the Trust to automatically provision the appropriate user accounts whenever a new staff record is created in the ESR system, saving considerable manual work for the IT team.
"Even before phase two, we expect to see some savings," said Peacock. "We plan to bring the password reset portal online, which should make a significant contribution to raising productivity in the IT department. If users can reset their own passwords, they won't have to call the IT helpdesk so often, which will give us a chance to focus on more valuable projects."