The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust is sticking with Cerner as its core electronic patient record system and has signed a £5 million hosting contract with the company.

As part of its new IM&T strategy, the trust has rolled out Cerner Millennium order communications for both radiology and pathology and plans to introduce clinical documentation and e-prescribing over coming years.

A strategy update to the trust’s board in April says the capital requirement for investment in the EPR will be more than £12 million between 2015-19, averaging at £3 million per year.

The trust deployed Millennium in June 2012, but experienced considerable problems with the system, leading to much higher operating costs than budgeted. In November the following year, it suspended a £6 million ’application and operational management services’ contract with Cerner.

The trust had been managing its own support, but has now signed a £15 million eight-year hosting deal with Cerner.

IT director Heather Allan said the trust has been through a period of review over the past two years and has decided to retain Millennium and integrate with other specialist systems where necessary.

“The strategy is to keep with core Cerner, to consolidate and fill in some gaps – for instance, we don’t have Spine compliance. It is also to work with specialist systems trust-wide – like cardiology and theatres – and to link them so people only have to enter data once,” Allan explained.

“Instead of being supported from an operational point of view by our own staff, we have moved to an eight-year contract with Cerner for Cerner hosting and operational management support.

“I feel this has de-risked the trust quite significantly; and rolled into that is an allowance for some Cerner services and one or two Cerner products which will fill gaps.”

The trust has six to seven year-old hardware, which is being replaced as part of the contract and it has already begun upgrading to the 2015 Millennium code base.

Royal Berkshire used a grant from the ‘Safer Hospitals Safer Wards: Technology Fund’ to roll-out order communications over the summer.

It is live for radiology across the trust and pathology is live in the majority of inpatient areas , which will be followed by outpatient clinics, high acuity areas and the emergency department before the end of the year.

Allan said the trust worked very successfully with Cerner on deploying order communications and has also been working with different specialist areas to get their specialist systems “up to scratch” and integrated with the EPR.

The next steps are to implement e-prescribing, clinical documentation, vital signs and medical equipment links into the EPR, which will be rolled out once the new code and hardware is in place.

Rebecca McBeth went to see Millennium in action at The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust recently. A fuller account of the trust’s developments, and how it is linking Millennium to other systems to support staff, is published today in features.