Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has admitted that it has failed to implement Alert as its electronic patient record system and is now going for a best of breed approach to EPR.

The trust signed a contract with Alert Life Sciences in 2009. At the time, it was to become the Portuguese A&E system supplier’s first NHS EPR reference site in the UK.

The trust planned to use the system to provide clinical functionality, leaving its IMS Maxims patient administration system in place, and to roll out the system on a department by department basis.

EHI reported in April 2011 that the trust was looking to have a full deployment of clinical documentation, e-prescribing, medications administration, and patient monitoring trust-wide by the end of 2012.

After deferring a go-live twice, the trust deployed the Alert EDIS system in its A&E department in 2010-11.However, EHI understands that the trust realised that because it had taken more than a year to get the A&E department live with the system,  it would take a very long time to roll it out on a department by department basis.

EHI also understands this was one of the reasons why Blackpool de-scoped the roll-out; even though it paid a significant part of the contract value up front.

In May last year, the trust said it had completed a review of its approach to the implementation of EPR, and had mutually agreed to change the scope of the Alert deployment. The trust’s May 2014 board papers now say that the trust is going for a different approach to EPR and is implementing a clinical portal.

“In relation to failing to implement Alert as the trust’s full electronic patient record, the trust has reviewed its strategic approach to the development and implementation of electronic health records across the local health community,” the papers say.

“It has been agreed that the trust will continue to use the Alert solution in the A&E department at the trust and in a selected number of outpatient services including senior review clinic, the colposcopy outpatients service and the paediatric diabetes outpatients service."

Blackpool is now pursuing a best of breed approach to EPR. It started to implement ReStart’s VIPER360 clinical portal last year, which pulls information from key clinical systems and displays patient information in a single view. The trust plans to keep some of its existing clinical systems, and go out to tender for others in order to create a full paperless system.

“The trust has been working with its various clinical information system suppliers to ensure that once an EPR system has been implemented, clinicians will only need to enter into one information system to access all relevant information about a patient,” say the board papers.

"The aim over the next three years is to deliver a fully integrated community administrative and clinical system, electronic prescribing, electronic documentation storage, electronic referrals and a fully integrated acute patient administration and clinical system.”

The trust is not the only one to have ended up re-working its Alert deployment. In 2011, Circle Health was due to deploy the first anglicised version of the EPR at the flagship CircleBath Hospital, but decided to terminate the contract in September 2011.

EHI also reported in December last year that Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust had gone live with Alert in one of its A&E departments. Brighton is also planning to use the system as a full EPR, and if successful, will become the only NHS, and UK, trust to do so.

A spokesperson from Alert told EHI that the “the position from Blackpool is correct” and that the company continues to “retain a very good relationship with the trust and continue to work with them on an ongoing basis.”

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals has been approached for comment, but had not provided one by the time of publication.