NHS Nightingale

Access to information for healthcare professionals during lockdown provided by OpenAthens

30 June 2020 • Sophie Allen, marketing officer

When the government announced the plan for NHS Nightingale hospitals, we offered our support.  Ensuring a seamless, ‘business as usual’ transition was essential for NHS staff in this crisis scenario. Health Education England and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recognized that NHS staff were being reassigned from other trusts. Therefore, NHS Nightingale hospitals needed immediate access to vital information. 

Consequently, it also meant non-NHS staff seconded from commercial organizations required access. 

The challenges

Our team rose to the challenge to help the NHS by enabling remote access to medical information.  

Firstly, remote library leaders needed an access management tool to use in the Nightingale hospitals. One they could rely on and go to for academic and medical information. 

“Our team came up with a way to quickly enable librarians and administrators to work from different locations without going through stringent approvals. These major service changes were designed, tested and implemented within a week. We received very positive feedback from customers and long-standing administrators who know exactly how our secure services work. They thanked us for relaxing the restrictions because it really helped organizations to carry on with business as usual.”

Phil Leahy, key client services manager, OpenAthens

The solutions

We enhanced access for our NHS healthcare workers. Then we also improved our administrator dashboard to help librarians working remotely. 

“Many thanks to the OpenAthens team for their rapid and proactive approach to problem solving during this unprecedented time. Because of this NHS Staff had continued access to essential medical, health and social care information resources in their fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. It also provided uninterrupted access to services for administrators. They were able to utilize the new secure multi-location verification technology for home working.”

Mark Salmon, deputy director evidence resources, NICE

Once it became clear that widespread remote working was in place, we established IP restrictions and user verification. This meant access to our management tools was possible for thousands of key workers. 

Benefits and results

A new, flexible mechanism was introduced to ensure a seamless transition to multi-location working for thousands of knowledge managers.  It allowed administrators of our services to continue to log in with additional flexibility while retaining the same security levels. 

MedicinesComplete, built and managed by The Royal Pharmaceutical Society, allows pharmacists to have access to essential medicines information.  

Access was recently widened to include clinical pharmacists working for Primary Care Networks in England.  

Using the tools that NHS librarians already had access to, MedicinesComplete was added to the entitlements for eligible pharmacists. This helped NHS organisations adhere to their licence conditions. The number of NHS staff needing to work remotely will be important to future delivery of the service. It goes without saying that OpenAthens will play its part in continuing to ensure the UK healthcare sector gets access to the vital information it needs.

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