Leading GP system suppliers EMIS and INPS are to join forces with out-of-hours IT supplier Adastra to develop an integrated IT system aimed at Lord Darzi’s GP-led health centres.

The three companies announced their plans today as Lord Darzi prepares to launch his 10-year plan to modernise the NHS. Darzi’s interim report published in October has already spelt out proposals for 150 GP-led health centres, one in every PCT, which must be set up by April 2009 and be open from 8am to 8pm seven days a week.

The companies say the collaboration will mean both EMIS and INPS’ clinical software will interoperate with Adastra’s out-of-hours IT system to produce an IT system that will meet the needs of the new generation of healthcare envisaged by Lord Darzi.

INPS and EMIS added that they have agreed to interoperate on future projects and said the new collaboration had the potential to drive the development of further IT solutions to support long term conditions, practice-based commissioning, referral management and other specialist and out-of-hospital services.

They say work to develop a conjoined system has already begun and claim that the product will be available “well before” the April 2009 deadline for GP-led health centres. The companies say the new system will be “compatible with and complementary to” the Summary Care Record.

The companies add: “In a move away from the idea of creating a monolithic single system, the new product will build on the components and data of the three partners’ existing systems with additional functionality where necessary fully utilizing interoperability with partner products.”

Sean Riddell, healthcare managing director of EMIS, said: “This is a landmark project which will combine the benefits and expertise of three, best-of-breed clinical and operational healthcare IT systems.

“Although it is still early days, we are very excited about the potential of this new collaboration to transform the healthcare IT market.”

Between them the companies support the care of about 58m patients with Adastra’s out-of-hours system used in 95% of out-of-hours care hubs in the UK.

Although the current main focus is on providing a new IT solution for GP access centres the three companies claim it also offers the potential to benefit existing and future out-of-hours care.

Lynn Woods, chief executive officer of Adastra, said: “Many operational hub services supporting out of hours care have integrated with NHS walk-in centres and are starting to intercept primary care traffic presenting to A&E. This collaboration offers the potential to better support all urgent and unscheduled care episodes, wherever they present.”

Dr Charlie Stuart-Buttle, chair of the EMIS National User Group, said: “This development reflects the spirit of the times – rather than reinvent the wheel every time the healthcare landscape changes, users want to build on locally successful and popular solutions.”

Max Brighton, managing director of INPS, added: “INPS, like EMIS and Adastra, is firmly committed to interoperability as a way of extending our service offer to both existing and new customer groups.

“This move is decisively in the direction of allowing local health communities to choose what works for them at a pace that suits them best. We are delighted to be part of such an innovative project.”