Gnaden Huetten Memorial Hospital is a full-service healthcare organization in Lehighton, Pennsylvania. Like most hospitals, Gnaden Huetten had few resources to invest in new technology or to manage its growing user base and complex networking environment.

Its physicians were working from multiple locations, including the hospital, private clinics and nearby universities. Doctors' offices were constantly calling up the medical records and billing departments to check on reimbursements and patient information.

Following a partnership with a nearby hospital, executives wanted to access their email and other applications from both hospitals and did not want to think about synching-up information or dialing in to the network.

In addition, the hospital needed to comply with security and privacy regulations under HIPAA, which sets policy for patient data usage. All this with just four IT staff.

Director of information services George Sanchez and his team looked at a lot of potential solutions, but none fitted the bill for remote access with complete security, until he read about SSL VPNs.

They chose the Aventail EX-1500 SSL VPN appliance, and this now provides the hospital with remote access for its physicians, their private staff, and hospital executives, with absolute security. While most of its end users access via Aventail's clientless web-based access option, Gnaden Huetten also deployed Aventail's Connect agent to its corporate managed laptops to provide a complete "in office" experience with maximum flexibility and application reach for its executives. The Aventail SSL VPN is integrated with the hospital's main software system by Siemens, and the IT staff created an easy-to-use portal on the main hospital website for remote users.

Physicians' offices can now access patient information, billing data and other records, resulting in fewer calls to the hospital records or finance departments and no more faxes back and forth. The doctors themselves are able to quickly and easily access medical records, drug information or other patient background from home or any location without jeopardizing patient confidentiality or privacy regulations.

The hospital markets its remote access as a free service to its physicians. "This solution has saved us substantial amounts of time and money and made our hospital more competitive in attracting and keeping the best physicians," says George Sanchez.