King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has developed an open source integration engine in collaboration with Tactix4.

The trust is using interoperability toolkit funding to make the engine ITK-compliant.

The funding is part of the Department of Health’s £2.2m Information Sharing Challenge Fund awarded to 43 different projects across the NHS.

Clive Stringer, deputy IT director at the trust, told EHI it had become ITK accredited for the exchange of clinical document architecture documentation last month.

“We’re hoping to set up our first messaging through ITK to our Ascribe prescribing system as well,” said Stringer.

“Two elements of the ITK are the admission, discharge and transfer messaging to become ITK compliant and to link up to the pharmacy system.

“We are going to use it to connect the rest of the clinical documents to CDA-compliant documents, so that they become ITK-compliant,” said Stringer.

“We’re using it to underpin the interoperability between all our systems. It covers all of the messaging between all the clinical systems here at King’s.”

Last year the trust began to migrate away from its old integration engine to a new one, based around the Apache Service Mix open-source integration container.

“We wanted not just a platform that was capable of the integration we need at this hospital, but a platform that means we are not locked into any particular vendor,” said Stringer.

“Although a number of the healthcare integration engines were ITK accredited, none of the non-healthcare engines were, this meant we needed to build this into our platform.”

Elijah Charles, technical lead on the project, said the trust struggled to find a healthcare consultancy to partner with who could equal its own expertise in integration.

The trust took advantage of the ITK funding to develop the integration engine together with Tactix4 and is open sourcing the additions developed on top.

“This means that other trusts should be able to make full advantage of all the work we have done, including the ITK components,” Stringer explained.

“One of the things that encouraged us is the knowledge that we were doing the right thing. As other trusts were doing the predictable thing, it took a bit of a leap of faith to go down this road.”

“We have done it in the time scale we have set us without too many people noticing. We have a scalable integration without any extra costs,” he said.

“That would mean we can implement and extend to another hospital without extra costs. If we went down a proprietary route we would see lots of extra costs around that.”

Rob Dyke, Director of Tactix4 said he was very impressed with the work the trust had done.

“Looking at how King’s have done this, they’ve set somewhat of a landslide record for integration. They’ve done this without any interruption to services. As a supplier, I didn’t even notice that the integration had been moved.”

Last week the trust went live with the last interface of its systems, the A&E system, meaning all 110 endpoint migrations are now done.