Amalga logoMilton Keynes NHS Foundation Trust has become the first UK customer for Microsoft’s healthcare data aggregation platform.

It has bought the Amalga Unified Intelligence System (UIS), which combines the features of a portal and business intelligence product, to provide a single real-time view of ten clinical and business systems.

Among the core systems the trust will integrate is Cerner Millennium, which was implemented by the foundation trust in 2006.

Trust IT director David Powell told E-Health Insider that Amalga UIS had been chosen because it was a proven product that offered a flexible way to maximise the value of data from the trust’s existing systems.

“It draws together data from our existing and future systems in a simple grid system, presenting it in a familiar Excel style,” said Powell. “It comes with integration already there, and it’s not dependant on us replacing existing systems.”

The platform will be used to integrate data feeds from Millennium, including data on admissions; discharges and transfers; demographics; contracting sets; clinical letters; discharge summaries; pathology data; and maternity information. It will also provide pointers to PACS images.

Powell said Amalga UIS taps into and takes copies from existing data feeds, rather than requiring integration interfaces to be built, so it is relatively quick to set up.

The approach also avoids the need to rebuild interfaces when source systems change – and the trust is due a Cerner upgrade later this year.

Milton Keynes aims to build a demonstration system by early March. This will combine current data feeds with two years of historic pathology and demographics data. The demonstrator will be used to start working with a trial group of users from April.

The second phase of the project will see the trust link to a yet-to-be-procured management system, to provide one view of the whole patient journey.

“We will also develop secure user cases and specific functionality by specialities,” said Powell. “We want to ensure we build momentum.”

Once implemented, Amalga UIS should support better performance and reporting, while meeting government mandates, such as 18-week referral to treatment requirements, discharge summaries and care pathways.

Powell said another important consideration was that the trust will be able to easily build the dashboards and views of data it needs in-house, as they evolve.

He also stressed that trust is not trying to replace Cerner. “We are fully committed to the CRS programme and to taking the next upgrade,” he said. “This approach is about ensuring we get the full value from it.”

The Amalga product, originally called Azyxxi, was developed at Washington Hospital Center before being bought by Microsoft in 2006. It now forms a key part of the company’s ambition to develop a standard application solution for use in healthcare organisations across the globe.

Amalga UIS has been implemented in 115 hospitals internationally. The NHS contract announcement coincided with further deals in Sweden, Switzerland and China.

Steve Shihadeh, vice president of the health solutions group at Microsoft, said Milton Keynes was typical of the complex hospital with quite sophisticated systems that Amalga UIS was ideally suited to.

He said the best way to think of Amalga UIS was as an “enterprise data aggregation platform for healthcare.” The product is also compatible with Microsoft’s HealthVault personal health record platform.

“In the next 12 months we hope we will be making an announcement about bringing HealthVault to the UK,” said Shihadeh. “From Amalga to HealthVault is a natural connection.”


E-Health Insider commissions and provides content for the Microsoft NHS Resource Centre