All 36 of the community and mental health trusts in London that opted to take the RiO electronic patient record have been upgraded to the latest version by local service provider BT.

The trusts have been upgraded to V5.4, which delivers improvements to clinical documentation and reporting, plus centralised demographics to provide the first steps to a more integrated care record.

Seventeen trusts in the South of England will follow suit this weekend; completing the same upgrade for more than 12,000 users.

CSE Healthcare Systems is now working to develop and implement the latest version of system, known as Release One. This was secured under the CCN3 agreement signed between BT and the NHS in April.

Dr Hashim Reza, clinical director at Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust and mental health clinical lead for the NHS London Programme for IT, told E-Health Insider: “Most of the design and factory testing has taken place.

"We are getting ready to deploy Release One in March 2011, with Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust going first.”

Dr Reza said steps would be taken to make sure the system does not run into issues similar to the ones that led to the roll out of V5.1 being halted last year.

“The roll out of Release One will be over 12-14 months. There were a long list of issues including training issues and platform issues when V5.1 went live, so a decision has been made that if it is going live in a real clinical environment there needs to be a two month break between deployment from one trust to the next,” he said.

The new release will provide improved e-prescribing functionality, reporting, and order communications and results from pathology and radiology.

It will also place greater focus on sharing records between similar care settings, enable personal records to be merged on screen, and help users to differentiate where notes have been generated.

Dr Reza added: “When RiO is a standalone product, each trust has a legal right to make use of the information internally. Once RiO2RiO is operative, the person who is consulting will need to gain consent at point of care.”

Dr Reza also said he believed that the success of RiO in comparison to other, large electronic patient record deployments was down to the “extensive clinical involvement and active user groups” from the outset.

“If one trust makes a request for change then it is taken onboard and improvements are distributed to other trusts. If a clinical team comes up with a good idea everyone benefits – and I don’t think that that has existed in the bigger systems like [acute EPR] Cerner Millennium.”