InterSystems has announced that its Ensemble integration engine now fully supports the NHS interoperability toolkit.

The ITK, which is now provided free of charge as an upgrade to Ensemble to both current and prospective users, will allow them to ‘plug and play’ with the integration engine in order to move towards full ITK compliance.

According to the company, the toolkit reduces the cost of integration, increases the flexibility of a trust’s IT infrastructure and removes the barriers of sharing information across care settings.

Jon Payne, InterSystems, sales engineering manager, told eHealth Insider: “We’re making the complete implementation of the ITK available to any NHS organisation free of charge, as an add on to Ensemble.

“The core intent is to enable trusts to kick-start their ITK programmes quickly so they don’t have to build the ITK compliant middleware themselves.”

In addition to enabling organisations to share information between settings, the ITK will also enable trusts to construct ITK compliant interfaces between its own legacy systems.

Payne added: “The focus of what we are doing is about driving down the cost of integration because once a trust has an ITK compliant interface it is generic and portable it can be shared with other trusts.”

Director general of informatics Christine Connelly first announced ITK in March 2009, with the scope of initial message standards broadened in January 2010 to take in areas such as discharge summaries.

InterSystems were the first IT supplier to achieve NHS Interoperability Toolkit accreditation from the NHS last September.

Two trusts are already looking to use the ITK as part of Ensemble in order to enhance the way correspondence is shared between organisations. InterSystems is the only company so far to have included the full ITK v1.1 specification within its products.