Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust is taking forward plans for an electronic patient record system by putting a new server platform under the latest version of iSoft’s PatientCentre patient administration system.

The trust is using money held back for deploying a National Programme for IT in the NHS system to invest in the hardware, PAS and clinical functions at the 460-bed Darent Valley Hospital.

It is acting now because it needs to replace the hardware platform for its existing PAS. It has always been an Torex/iSoft customer. It will replace its Alpha/Unix servers, which are no longer supported by HP, with HP’s new Intel Itanium server platform.

Leslieann Osborn, assistant director of service development at the trust, told E-Health Insider: “We looked at other options, including becoming an early adopter for Cerner and Lorenzo, and ruled those both out almost straight away.

“We are a very forward thinking trust and opting for some of the solutions under the national programme would be like taking a step back. There are four or five surrounding trusts that are using PatientCentre, so it made sense to do the same.”

Last week, EHI revealed that East Cheshire NHS Trust had made a similar choice as its Alpha-based platform became increasingly unstable. Board papers revealed that incentives of around £1m were available for it to become an early adopter for Lorenzo, iSoft’s ‘strategic’ EPR in the North, Midlands and East.

Despite this, and the cost of investing in new hardware, the trust decided to upgrade to Intel’s Itanium server architecture. However, it decided to continue to run its CliniCom PAS.

A spokesperson for iSoft told EHI that the company has another 33 sites running PatientCentre and CliniCom on Alpha severs, and that at least four trusts have decided to upgrade to its new hardware platform.

ISoft is already working on upgrades at the Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Ashford and St Peter’s NHS Hospital Trust, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and Frimley Park NHS Foundation Trust.

Dartford and Gravesham is the first to complete the move to Itanium and is now working with iSoft to introduce order communications and results reporting in pathology. It hopes to achieve this by the autumn, with radiology following by the end of 2009.

Other priorities include using iSoft applications for real-time bed management, patient documentation to populate patient letters, and flow charting for recording and interpreting observations.

There are also plans to make patient information available at the patients’ bedside on all wards using computers on wheels and for printed patient wristbands to be fed by the PAS.

Osborn continued: “In three years’ time, when the contract for the PAS finishes, we will have the basis of an EPR. We will be very close to a Lorenzo system, if it continues to be developed. If we do move to Lorenzo, it will be more like an upgrade – a very smooth transition.”

The Itanium server platform will also support the trust’s own developments, which include a clinician developed application for electronic discharge summaries and RFID tracking of equipment.

Last year, HP announced that it was ceasing support for the Alpha server. Since then, an iSoft project team has been working on the replacement Itanium technology, which also required new versions of the operating system, database technology and product code.

Adrian Stevens, managing director of iSoft UK, Ireland, Scandinavia and Nordic Countries, said: “We have committed a considerable amount of resources to developing a future proof solution for our Clinicom and PatientCentre customers.

“It not only provides improved resilience and performance, but enables customers to build on applications that are familiar, trusted and highly regarded, and so avoid the cost and massive upheaval of changing products.”

Link: iSoft