UK looks to replace passwords with biometric technology to reduce NHS login time

The U.K. government is investing £40 million (USD$52 million) in multi-factor authentication technology to upgrade NHS staff computer login system and reduce employee login time, which has reportedly brought great stress and dissatisfaction among staff members.

The current patient care process involves logging in to as many as 15 different programs, each with an individual login detail system. This system creates a potential cybersecurity risk, as it risks staff reusing the same password out of convenience. The upgrade will not only save time, but it will also boost infrastructure security.

“If you work in the NHS, the tech should not be getting in the way of your ability to do your job,” said Chief Executive of NHSX, Matthew Gould. “Tech should be something you rarely think about because it just works. Today’s announcements mean we can start to tackle one of the biggest gripes staff have with their tech. It will allow staff across the NHS to spend more time with their patients and less time fighting their computers.”

The project is similar to the one deployed at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool which uses single sign-on technology that decreased login time from 1 minute 45 seconds to just 10 seconds, the institution reported, saving more than 130 hours of time now better spent on patient care.

The system will focus on a partnership with IT system suppliers to replace password logins with biometric multi-factor logins such as fingerprint access, making sure trusts comply and update processes so that staff is granted the access permission needed, and merging local with national system so healthcare facilitators can access all clinical and workforce systems.

The government will invest an extra £4.5 million (USD$5.8 million) in digital social care projects to help vulnerable adults become more independent and improve data sharing between NHS and social care. The funding can be used to develop AI-based assistive technology programs that use sensors to determine normal behavior, such as sleep patterns, and send alerts when discrepancies are detected. Other projects can involve a common care record database based on medical and social care data or integrating care home information with hospital IT systems when admitted to hospital.

The government will set up a “digital aspirant” program to provide funding to stimulate digital transformation in NHS trusts.

The Health and Social Care Secretary will focus efforts on developing a model of excellence to further assist providers on tech goals in the 2020s, initiative which will be part of the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) inspection regime.

“Too often, outdated technology slows down and frustrates staff, and prevents them from giving patients their full attention and the care they deserve. This investment is committed to driving forward the most basic frontline technology upgrades, so treatment can be delivered more effectively and we can keep pace with the growing demand on the NHS,” said Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.

“Digital Identity and Single Sign On (SSO) provides the fast, efficient, secure access to Healthcare IT systems, including legacy and modern EHR systems with access to up-to-date patient information and this access is completely transparent to the doctor, nurse and other healthcare worker,” said Gus Malezis, president and CEO of Imprivata, in an email to Biometric Update. “While SSO is proven to deliver dramatic time savings when implemented across health organizations, its true potential is as the starting point for harnessing exciting technologies including mobile devices, medical devices and the Internet of Things, as well as AI, all of which will enable clinicians to do their jobs effectively in future. Furthermore, SSO that is designed to enhance and support natural clinical workflows will boost engagement and break down the barriers to care.”

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