SWAN delivers Wi-Fi services to Scotland's pharmacies

27 May 2019

NHS National Service Scotland (NSS) is a national NHS Board operating at the heart of NHS Scotland, supporting customers to deliver their services more efficiently and effectively. NSS aim to help our customers save money and free up resources so they can be re-invested into essential services.

NSS is the contract authority for the Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) framework through which Capita are contracted to provide services to 81 Scottish public sector bodies including all 22 NHS Boards.

In January 2016, NSS Practitioner & Counter Fraud Services had a vision to provide a Wi-Fi solution to 681 independent pharmacies across Scotland that would enable them to access and deliver services for staff.

Some of these pharmacies had no existing Wi-Fi available and those who did had third-party managed connections out with the SWAN network which meant that pharmacists couldn’t access clinical data and patient records.

With pharmacies taking on more responsibility to ease the pressure on GP practices, the provision of a modern, low-cost and secure Wi-Fi service was essential to enable pharmacy staff to securely access patient care records and to facilitate private consultations with patients from mobile devices in the consulting rooms.

They also wanted to avoid the requirement for the local pharmacies to buy an ad-hoc, unsecured and unmanaged solution. At that point the pharmacy sites were using a mix of ageing and end-of-life equipment to connect to SWAN and to access other essential pharmacy and NHS applications.

Recurring faults were common place, requiring engineers to be deployed across geographically challenging sites in order to fix. Capita inherited this ageing estate in 2015 at the start of delivering the SWAN contract.

Pharmacists were also restricted to capturing and entering patient information at their computers behind the counter, restricting their interaction with patients around the premises.

Following discussions with NSS it was agreed that the installation of the new Wi-Fi service would be carried out at the same time as a project to replace old routers, enabling Capita to conduct full equipment checks on the network connectivity at the pharmacy sites, replacing any equipment as required. This meant that all the work could be carried out in one single site visit by an engineer, reducing any disruption to the pharmacies and greatly reducing costs to NSS.

Capita assisted NSS in the evaluation of a number of solutions and manufacturers including Cisco, Aruba and Meraki - NSS selected the Cisco Meraki cloud-based architecture for the Pharmacy Wi-Fi rollout.

The solution was based on a cloud-based WLAN architecture, ideally suited for small-site Wi-Fi requirements. It provided high-capacity, flexible, on-site hardware (access point) that was centrally managed from the cloud. This approach combined the benefits of modern high performance hardware with the latest innovations in scalable software architectures.

As independent pharmacies, the solution allows the pharmacy staff to remain mobile and access certain applications from their own devices to improve the patient experience.

The solution is fully managed centrally, allowing staff to check how the service is performing at any time, and identify issues before any failures occur. New users and devices can also be added to the service with ease, allowing administrators to self-serve in quick time.

Pharmacists can capture the results of patient consultations in real-time instead of noting on paper and later entering to their PC network.
Nelson Kennedy, Head of Service Improvement, Practitioner Service, NSS

Key benefits:

  • A total of 681 sites are benefitting from Wi-Fi services
  • Cost savings realised for NHS NSS
  • Improved productivity for the pharmacy staff
  • Simplified ease of use for administrators to self-serve
  • Provided a technical refresh and a platform for future capabilities, such as the potential to integrate cameras and other Cisco Meraki devices
Personally, I’ve found the Wi-Fi fantastic. It’s so handy having a tablet connected so I am not rooted to one spot whenever I need to access the Internet. It works great with the Patient Care Record too.
Community Pharmacist

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