A hospital for the future
Akershus University Hospital
Akershus University Hospital in Norway started to plan a new hospital in the mid-1990s as the existing hospital had an inferior technological standard as well as poor capacity. It needed new procedures and greater efficiency. Advanced information technology was going to be required to free up time for care, improve patient security and make the hospital future-proof. At the inauguration in 2008, Akershus University Hospital (Ahus) was called Europe’s most modern.
Future-proof information technology
- Wireless networks and portable computers increased flexibility and thus the productivity of the hospital’s staff. At the same time, IT security increased for all systems that handle sensitive patient data. We were expecting to see services for electronic collaboration within primary care as soon as the project started, and therefore wanted to find technology that could manage this securely. We selected smart cards and certificates, reports Sverre Knutsen, IKT adviser.
Ahus turned to the Norwegian IT security company Buypass. The company developed a smart card based security solution with Buypass Access Manager for administration of electronic identities and the PKI software Net iD from SecMaker as the basis.
Secure and simple with multifunction card
Today all staff use a personal smart card for entry into the hospital premises, for secure log in to the hospital network and for electronic signatures. Using the card and personal PIN code, the staff log in quickly and simply to the hospital’s IT environment from their personal PC or one of the hospital’s shared workstations. To lock or log out, the user simply removes the smart card. The user can directly resume work from where he or she was when interrupted by inserting the card in a new workstation.
Besides an electronic identity, the card contains both a magnetic strip and a traditional RFID aerial (radio frequency identification), which contributes to further facilitating the work. The card gives staff access to facilities including medicine cabinet, laundry cupboard, secure print-outs etc. The same card applies for payment ” in the canteen. Furthermore, it gives admission to the hospital’s pneumatic dispatch system, one of Europe’s largest.
- Card and PIN code are much more secure than user name and password, which we used to use. At the same time, the users obtain more flexible logging in and out with fast and mobile access to software and information. Smart card based security has been an important means to raise the level of security and simultaneously increase user-friendliness, Sverre Knutsen says.
Electronic message handling with certificate
The card is equipped with local and advanced certificates, all based on the employees’ needs. Ahus issues local certificates for use within its own infrastructure. Buypass issues the advanced certificate which permits exchange of patient data, drugs and other sensitive information between the hospital’s staff and other Norwegian health operators, for example nursing homes, general practitioners and municipalities.
The certificate means that unauthorised people are not able to read or manipulate sensitive information. Secure exchange of doctor’s certificates, notification of illness and e-prescriptions speeds up the flow of information, reduces use of paper and streamlines the staff’s work. The gain is in more time for the patients.
Ready for future needs
Norway is now developing an ”electronic health motorway”. The ambition is to electronically link together GPs, municipal care, public welfare and hospitals. Healthcare staff throughout the country will be able to exchange care-related information such as medical opinions, prescriptions and laboratory reports securely and simply.
- It is hard to say how rapidly the development will proceed, but we are certainly ready with the technology and the solution we have introduced in the hospital. We are well equipped to meet tomorrow’s requirements, Sverre Knutsen concludes
Card and PIN code are much more secure. At the same time, the users obtain more flexible login and out with fast and mobile access to system and information.
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