Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is taking a ‘big bang’ approach to its Epic electronic patient record implementation, on a scale rarely seen in the NHS.

Carrie Armitage, the director the eHospital programme that will cover the trust and neighbouring Papworth Hospital, told EHI that Cambridge will implement a complete EPR, including specialist modules and e-prescribing, in one go in October next year.

“We are rolling out the core [patient administration system] functionality, clinical documentation, A&E, maternity, e-prescribing, pharmacy, radiology, oncology, cardiology, theatre, pathology, orders- which includes all the observations and clinical decision support – and transplants,” she said.

Armitage acknowledged that the move will be challenging, but argued that it had very little “good IT” in place, and very little worth retaining.

“We haven’t really done an awful lot here at Cambridge. We have some really old systems, some home-grown systems, really nothing worth keeping. We really had to start from scratch,” she said.

The only system the trust is keeping is its GE Healthcare picture archiving and communications system, which it received as part of NPfIT.

The ambitious eHospital programme will see Cambridge and Papworth spend in the region of £200m over the next ten years; with much of the money going on an infrastructure and hardware contract with HP. 

The trusts will be Epic’s first UK reference sites. However, when Cambridge signed the contract in May this year, Papworth did not.

Armitage said the process has taken longer than planned, but Papworth is due to sign shortly.

“Papworth hasn’t signed the contract yet, because it became a bit of a conundrum and they were busy with moving into the new hospital site,” she said.

Cambridge also faced a delay in signing the contract, because of an intervention by Monitor, the foundation trust regulator, which was worried about patient safety incidents and financial control.

In the end, Armitage says the new IT implementation came to be seen as "part of the solution to the turnaround.”

Cambridge plans to go-live with the Epic EPR in October 2014, with Papworth following six months later.

That is probably a good thing. I’m not sure we could handle two trusts going live at once,” she said.

Read more about Cambridge’s Epic implementation in Insight.