Mark Hibberd

The Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) was conceived by NHS Digital to bring a reliable, efficient and flexible way for health and care organisations to access and exchange electronic information.  It replaces the previous N3 network and is a standards-based ‘network of networks’, enabling multiple suppliers to provide connectivity services.  It was designed to meet the requirements of an integrated and evolving health and social care sector. It offers more flexibility, value-added services and in theory, better value, driven by a competitive market.

Mark Hibberd Senior Account Manager Make contact

Digital transformation in healthcare

As a previous N3 aggregator and a fully HSCN compliant supplier, OCSL fully understands the importance of secure connectivity.  The need for flexibility, whilst maintaining the highest levels of security.  The need to share information within the sector, as well as with partners in the private sector.

With more organisations forging ahead with digital transformation in the health sector, flexibility and security are of equal importance.   The digitisation of patient records, the need to share patient information with other organisations, direct engagement through mobile devices, wearables, smart devices and the collection & analysis of data to improve decision making.  All depend on having a flexible, scalable yet secure network.

HSCN against a backdrop of rapid change

A secure connection is a crucial factor for any health and social care organisation.  But it’s what happens at either end of the network that is arguably more important. 

Where technology and people meet. For me, that’s where digital transformation really happens. 

And that’s why I believe, clients, should view HSCN as part of a much, broader, holistic picture.

It’s also important to bear in mind how PSN (The Public-Sector Network) has evolved. Just like HSCN, this was created as a standards-based network of networks to drive savings and efficiencies. (Sound familiar?)

Only this year James Stewart, Director of Technical Architecture at Government Digital Service, has stated the government is ‘on a journey away from the PSN’.  

Stewart suggests, with so much innovation being driven by the adoption of cloud services, the expectation that organisations must communicate over the PSN has caused unnecessary complexity.

Many of the technical controls for internet communication now provide sufficient assurance and security. 

Central government has stated, you don’t necessarily need PSN, you just need to make sure policies and process adhere to the standards you set out.  So, the message here is dead clear: there’s no need to invest in additional connectivity if you don’t need to.

Should you view HSCN in the same light? Possibly. I’m not suggesting a move away from a healthcare network like HSCN is going to happen any time soon.

Some centrally provided healthcare applications will always need to be accessed via the N3/HSCN network. 

But it's important to take the time to look at whether it’s worth the investment, or whether an alternative solution could help you meet specified security standards, at a lower cost.

Why build, when you can buy?

Cloud is constantly moving goal posts and changing expectations.  For example, many IT departments are now becoming internal service providers for their own organisations. They are setting up a catalogue of services for internal use. These are based on off-the-shelf services provided from external sources. Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce being two of the most well-known examples

But, today, it’s important to be aware of the broader picture.  At OCSL we are an HCSN compliant supplier and can provide a secure HSCN connection. But we’re thinking without limitation. We're helping our clients to look at the wider strategy. We're helping them focus on the ultimate outcomes they are trying to achieve.

It’s also important to bear in mind limitations of the security controls delivered as part of the government’s Data Security Centre service (or as security HSCN Obligations on the Network Service Providers).  They don’t provide additional end-to-end security for applications and devices. 

And that’s why at OCSL, we’ve made further investments.  To make sure data assets are secure and to offer round the clock monitoring and management of environments. These are services we offer over and above HSCN compliance and infrastructure.

A better answer

OCSL works with many organisations across many industries. And we’re using this insight to drive innovation and digital transformation in healthcare.

We’re using Cloud to leverage the power of big data and predictive behavioural analytics to provide an organisation with better insight into trends seen in their membership statistics.

We’re investigating how beacon technology, coupled with cloud services, can help support the creation of smart hospitals and clinics and the end-to-end patient journey. 

We’re also looking ahead at how Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can improve productivity and outcomes.  Public cloud offers a super-charged way to carry out data analysis quickly and at scale.

If you’d like to discuss digital transformation in healthcare, HSCN, or any of the topics covered in this post, please

Get in touch


Thought piece