Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust has picked IMS Maxims as preferred bidder to supply its electronic patient record system.

The project could become the first implementation of an open source EPR in an acute NHS trust as IMS Maxims has committed to making its suite of products available on an open source basis.

The IMS systems will replace Taunton’s Cerner Millennium EPR, originally delivered by Fujitsu under the National Programme for IT.

A paper was presented to Taunton’s trust board last week with a recommendation to announce IMS as the winner of its EPR procurement. The board accepted the recommendation and the EPR programme team will start work with IMS to finalise the full business case.

Taunton is looking at implementing the patient administration system, A&E, theatres and reporting modules. An update to staff says the full business case will be presented to the board on 26 March, allowing the trust to award a contract with IMS and move into the implementation phase of the EPR programme.

Taunton went out to tender for an EPR worth up to £35m with the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust in March last year. Taunton’s Cerner contract expires in October 2015 so it is under pressure to transition to a new system. It continues to work collaboratively with Royal Devon, but had to move ahead to contract award more quickly because of this time constraint.

IMS Maxims chief executive Shane Tickell said the company is delighted to be in preferred bidder status and to be working with the trust. He has been  engaged with NHS England regarding the commissioning board’s push to widen the options of NHS trusts to include open source EPR products.

Tickell said the company was originally only going to open source its PAS, but is now looking to offer all of its EPR to trusts on an open source basis and is working on the transition.

“There isn’t a half-way house. We did start off thinking we would offer only some of it, but I have recognised it needs to be all of it,” Tickell told EHI.

“What we want is clinical engagement to help move the products forward. We want to be involved in a greater community of users that inputs into the products’ future. It’s great if it (Taunton’s decision) gives confidence to others to look closer at doing this.”

NHS England head of business systems Richard Jefferson said the Taunton decision is good news because IMS has committed to open source its products if enough trusts sign-up. Becoming preferred bidder at one trust gives the product viability and gives confidence to other trusts to look at open source solutions.

Around £20m of the second round of the ‘Safer Hospitals Safer Wards; Technology Fund’ is earmarked for open source projects and Taunton would be able to apply for part of this, Jefferson added.