Cerner site talks 'too slow' for Taunton

Southern trusts live with Cerner Millennium are looking at a collaborative tender for an electronic patient record system, but slow progress has led Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust to branch out on its own.

The trust recently published a prior information notice in the Official Journal of the European Union saying it expects to commence advertising for an EPR this year.

It is one of nine Southern sites that received Cerner Millennium as part of the National Programme for IT in the NHS, initially from local service provider Fujitsu, and then from BT. All the trusts will see their contracts run out in October 2015.

Director of finance and IM&T, Simon Wombwell, told eHealth Insider that Taunton and Somerset had been in talks with the other Southern Cerner sites about forming a consortium.

But he said: “While there’s not a lot saying ‘we definitely don’t want to do it’, we haven’t had the support we were probably hoping for.

“We have got to the point where we feel it’s more urgent than the pace other organisations are proceeding at, so we decided to crack on.”

Wombwell said NHS Connecting for Health was working on bringing all the Southern ‘live’ sites together to create a Southern consortium.

This might be similar to the London group of trusts using or likely to use Millennium that went out to tender for an EPR earlier this year.

Wombwell said he had spoken to the London consortium about the possibility of joining its bid, but the group had “moved ahead so far that it probably wasn’t right to join them.”

On a Southern consortium, he said: “We want to keep our options open, particularly if there’s any money or support involved. It might be a London type arrangement, it might be something different.”

Wombwell said Taunton and Somerset estimated that once it went through a full procurement and the process to shift data centres - which was “highly likely” – it would be on a tight deadline to be live with a new system by October 2015.

The trust is currently using Cerner system as a patient administration system and in A&E and theatres, but not for other functionality, such as order communications, or in other areas, such as maternity.

“Interoperability is the way forward,” he said. “The reality for us as an organisation is we are going to have to build on what we have got where possible, rather than bring in a whole new suite of systems.”

The trust wants to encourage as many suppliers as possible to engage with the bidding process. “We are very interested in what suppliers have to say to us,” Wombwell explained.

He said the tender was a not a done deal for Cerner and the bidding was open to “absolutely anybody and everybody who wants to get back into this marketplace.”

“I’m not going to suggest the investment of time, training and other factors in our current suite of Cerner systems is not something we might want to hold on it, but part of the conversation with suppliers is also to include Cerner,” he said.

“The Cerner system we have got is very much BT based so we are also talking to Cerner about what they can offer post-2015.”

Wombwell said the trust has an electronic patient record board chaired by a medic and wanted clinicians to be in the driving seat with regards to their requirements and the kind of supplier they want to work with.

“One of the challenges we have found with the national programme is to a degree its inflexibility. What we are looking for is a supplier that can convince us that they can provide that flexibility to influence and shape what the EPR will look like post-2015.”

The trust will not be “standing still” while it waits for a new EPR and is looking at voice recognition technology, scheduling and real time theatre booking.

“We want to be able to invest over the next couple of years and anything we do buy - subsequently coming out of the national programme -can integrate with those systems.”

Last updated: 30 April 2012 15:25

Rebecca Todd

24 April 2012

Bravo Taunton!

Natterjack209 weeks ago

Good to see more evidence of a sensible future emerging.

I'm increasingly skeptical about the practical value of these big collaborations. They tend to proceed at the pace of the slowest member and inevitably rely on compromise and as the basis for agreement.

I certainly don't believe that they lead to value for money, either--for suppliers, the programme management involved in handling the participants can be nightmarish and the price has to reflect this; for the participants, the cost of compliance with the group will surely out-weigh any volume savings. E.g. South Acute Programme--really?

There's sure to be a back-lash of mis-governed diversity in the post-colonial NPfIT-free world we find ourselves in, but Taunton appears to have some good ideas about where it wants to go. I wish them well.





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