What to do when your N3 tokens expire: HSCN remote access

For the last two years people have been transitioning from N3 to HSCN and at the same time, replacing the overlay services they took. With the BT bridging gap from N3 to HSCN collapsing in August 2020, what should you be looking for or considering to future-proof when your N3 remote access tokens expire?


Some organisations manage and maintain their own 2-factor authentication, but wouldn’t it be better if your internal IT team focused on making it easier for your clinicians to deliver their patient care? Like supporting patient monitoring with AI applications or saving clinician’s time by automatically transcribing notes.


If you don’t know why N3 tokens were so popular, let’s go through some of the reasons why clinicians took them up:

  • To provide access to critical patient data straightaway at the point of care to support decision-making
  • To accelerate care delivery through increased access to data
  • To enable agile and flexible working for time-poor, pressured staff


What’s changing for health and social care information and apps?

With the Internet First policy stating that new digital services should operate over the internet, the HSCN network is an important stage for digital health and social care organisations who are starting to make changes to their services and aligning themselves with the Internet First policy.

So, knowing where health and care services is heading in the future, provides some guidance to help you start thinking about what you need to consider; does your solution align to Internet First? Is the suggested remote access service tied to solely HSCN?


Considerations before you look to replace your N3 tokens:

  1. Understand your requirements for the short, medium and long-term. What do your users need to access and where is their start point? Is it HSCN or PSN?
  2. Does the remote access service align to the wider NHS strategy and enable secure Internet First access?
  3. Where in the world will your users be accessing applications and data to comply with NHS Digital? Your remote access solution should support geofencing rules and GDPR
  4. Are you looking for a hardware or software token, or do you need to support a mixture or perhaps both?
  5. How scalable do you want your solution to be? You need to ensure that you can allocate, reallocate and flex the number of tokens you have with ease.


What should you look for in a remote access provider? Here are four things to consider. Do they provide:

  • A secure remote access solution which offers more than access to private networks
  • Access to HSCN and/or PSN. Check that they can provide secure access to either location, regardless of where the application or data resides
  • Does the solution scale and align with the Internet First strategy?
  • A flexible solution that adapts to change


If the expiration date of your N3 tokens is approaching fast, make sure that your secure remote access solution supports and future-proofs your organisation so you’re ready for HSCN and Internet First.


Want to know more? Read about secure remote access here.


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