Three NHS trusts in the South of England have signed contracts totalling £5.5m with Fujitsu Services to provide them with Cerner’s PathNet pathology suite integrated with Cerner Millennium. The contracts will run until 2013.

The three trusts are Dartford & Gravesham NHS Trust, East Kent Hospitals and Medway NHS Trust, Kent.

The PathNet system is being deployed as a "single domain level solution" and will support the Kent and Medway Pathology Network to achieve full integration between their laboratories and the NHS Care Record Service.

PathNet forms part of the Millennium clinical software suite providing trusts with a fully integrated pathology system for electronically ordering and receiving pathology tests and results. The system includes modules covering general laboratory, microbiology, anatomic pathology and blood transfusion.

The three trusts will all share the same instance of the Cerner Millennium patient administration system (PAS), due to be installed by Fujitsu by late 2007. Kent & Medway is one of ten instances of Millennium due to be implemented serving trusts across the south of England.

The three PathNet implementations have already begun and should be completed by mid-2008. Because all three trusts will be on the same instance of Millennium they will share one patient record database and clinicians will be able to electronically access patients’ records – including pathology test results – across the health community.

Fujitsu, which is the local service provider for the NHS IT programme in the South of England, is providing PathNet to the three trusts as an "additional service". Pathology is one of the clinical areas outside the scope of the core LSP contract negotiated between the DH IT agency, NHS Connecting for Health, and Fujitsu.

"These three contracts are outside the core NPfIT contract, but in addition to it," Peter Hutchinson, managing director UK Public Sector for Fujitsu, told E-Health Insider.

He explained that under the additional service contract arrangements trusts can buy systems direct from their LSP, once key criteria are met. "We have to demonstrate value for money to CfH and the trusts have to build a full business case".

"We are delighted to have won this contract with Fujitsu to provide a totally integrated clinical solution within the Kent and Medway healthcare community. Cerner’s single integrated system will enable the Trusts to streamline the ordering of tests and the delivery of results without the inherent problems of interfaces and ensure that vital information is available whenever and wherever it is needed for clinicians." said David Sides, managing director, Cerner. 

The LSP will deliver PathNet fully integrated with the Millennium patient administration system (PAS) being provided to trusts in the south of England as part of the NHS IT programme. The LSP will host the system from its southern cluster data centre.

Fujitsu says that together the Millennium PAS and PathNet "will create an integrated NHS Care Record System within Kent & Medway."

Hutchinson explained that PathNet was an integral part of the Millennium product family. "It’s part of Millennium and that’s one of the key benefits. Trusts taking it will have a totally integrated solution that has a common patient database, making the system safer, faster and better."

Hutchinson said the integration of the Millennium PAS and PathNet software "shows the benefits of standardisation". He said he expected that further trusts would see the benefits of working together to deploy integrated clinical solutions.

Fujitsu says that benefits of the new pathology order communications system will include: faster access to patient information; greater standardisation; less duplication of records and improved sharing of patient information between hospitals. "This is a great example of what the national programme [for IT] is about," said Hutchinson.

Cerner’s PathNet system is already used by Northwick Park Hospital and Central Middlesex Hospital. Both hospitals are part of the North West London Hospitals Trust which signed a deal with Cerner in February 2003.