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HSCN: increasing collaboration and reducing cost

Published 20th May 2021

The Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) is the data network for health and care organisations which replaced N3. It provides the underlying network arrangements to help integrate and transform health and social care services by enabling them to access and share information more reliably, flexibly and efficiently while benefitting from improved network and bandwidth capacity, financial savings and easier and smoother access to clinical systems.  Health and social care providers can now choose their network connectivity suppliers from a competitive marketplace and in collaboration with other health and social care organisations.

What are the objectives of the HSCN?

The new HSCN network aims to provide superior access to critical digital services relied upon by health and care which are not currently available over the Internet. With a keen focus on helping those organisations in the health and social care sector to protect themselves against network-related cybersecurity threats.

A major objective is to increase collaboration between organisations in this sector, with a reliable, safe network service it will enable efficient and flexible information sharing amongst health and care organisations; and encourage greater efficiency by enabling sharing and reuse of existing services and infrastructure, thus also reducing duplication.

Key benefits of HSCN

  • Ability to send and receive data between health and social care services securely
  • Greater capacity for collaboration and information sharing.
  • Standardised networks
  • Simpler network Information Governance requirements

Keeping your data secure

If your business is in the Health and Social Care sector then securing your data is not only important but it is likely to be mandatory, and is definitely critical to your customers.

HSCN is a private network designed to carry information which is only available to certain organisations. This is very different from a ‘secure’ network. HSCN itself doesn’t provide security to prevent loss, tampering, authenticity or inappropriate usage of the information it carries or the systems or services available through it.*

This means that if patient or personal data is being transmitted across HSCN, then encryption must be used, your connectivity partner should do this for you.  It also means that if you provide systems or services over HSCN, it’s your responsibility to secure them and to make decisions about who can access those systems or services. That’s why it’s so important to choose a connectivity supplier that is independently audited for compliance (notably ISO 27001) and regularly undergoes penetration testing. They will also manage giving authorised staff secure remote access and protect your network from malware & DDoS attacks.

For more information on HSCN visit NHS Digital Services.

*NHS Digital – HSCN connection Governance