Nuffield Health, the not-for-profit that runs hospitals, gyms and corporate health schemes across the UK, is to implement an electronic health record using InterSystems’ TrakCare.

Its chief digital and information officer, Alan Payne, told Digital Health News that the move will support a shift from a “very complex” organisational set-up towards a more streamlined service, focused on users.

At the moment, he said, Nuffield Health’s 31 hospitals “use an out of date system” and use “31 different versions of it.”

Installing TrakCare at the hospitals should therefore modernise their IT and remove a lot of redundancy; while also simplifying its infrastructure with a shift into cloud-based computing.

At the same time, the system will be used by the organisation’s 77 public gyms and corporate customers, with the aim of offering a streamlined wellness, health and treatment service.

“Instead of having a gym record, and a hospital record, what we want is one record to improve the care we give you,” Payne said.

As such, there will also be a focus on patient access, which Payne said he wanted to go “beyond a transactional system; we want something that is usable – a care plan that is supported by us.”

As an example, he said a patient who was due to have surgery should have access to pre-operative information through the record, and be discharged “with the right recovery and nutrition plans in place.”

Nuffield Health argues that the system should also support transfers of care with the NHS. Payne said the organisation had looked at 21 options before picking TrakCare, whittling them down to the final choice in a process that took 14 months.

The organisation is planning to take “pretty much the full spectrum” of modules that TrakCare offers, including its patient administration system, departmental systems, and the HealthShare care plan sharing platform that is used by the NHS in Scotland.

For the moment, the hospitals will retain their lab systems, as they are not at end of life, although this may change in the future.

Despite this, the next step will be for Nuffield Health to work with InterSystems on a ‘proof of concept’ that Payne stressed would not be focused on technology.

“We are not touching software for six months,” he said. “We are going to develop a proof of concept that focuses on how we operate.

“So instead of implementing, and then seeing things go terribly wrong, as the scope of the project changes we want to agree that up front and, if necessary, agree and syndicate new ways of working across our consultants.”

Once the proof of concept is complete, Nuffield Health will pilot it ahead of a full roll-out. The organisation is also planning to create a training environment that will create an “almost real” ward environment.

“We have finally found a use for all our second-hand furniture,” Payne joked. However, he stressed that the implementation is a major undertaking for the organisation, that will take three or four years to complete.

“We can see the importance of technology, and we think that this will help us to differentiate ourselves in a competitive environment,” he said. “This is a fundamental change, and it will not come cheap.”

In a statement, Mark Palmer, the country manager for InterSystems, said it was “delighted” to have been chosen as Nuffield Health’s HER partner, and that the company was “looking forward to sharing the journey to deliver integrated healthcare for their customers.”