West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has gone live with its £19 million Cerner electronic patient record deployment, called e-Care.

The EPR went-live over the bank holiday weekend, replacing the hospital’s 20-year-old patient administration system. A hospital spokesperson said: "We have implemented PAS in all areas and gone paperless with FirstNet in the emergency department.

"We have electronic prescribing and medications administration for inpatients on all adult wards, moved to electronic clinical notes for doctors and nurses and electronic nursing observations in inpatients, and we are proceeding with our planned partial implementation of order communicationss.

“West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust staff (clinical, technical, administrative and senior leadership) and Cerner UK staff have worked tirelessly to achieve this implementation, which is proceeding as planned.”

The trust said this “unprecedented overhaul of its IT system” is the biggest single investment it has ever made in IT, but warns that it will take time to bed-in and there will be a period of “potential disruption in the coming weeks”.

Stephen Dunn, the trust’s chief executive said: “e-Care is one of the leading IT systems available in this country. It will revolutionise the hospital and bring a whole range of benefits to our patients by modernising and transforming our services.

“We have spent the last two years preparing for the launch and our staff  have received extensive training. However, we are expecting there to be a short period of time when people will find it harder to do their jobs as they learn the way the system works.

“We are therefore asking our patients and referrers to please bear with us over the next few weeks as our administrative processes may temporarily slow down.

“The benefits of this system over the longer term will far outweigh any short term disruption and our staff who have experienced similar systems working in other hospitals are very excited about the potential it offers."

Dermot O’Riordan, West Suffolk’s chief clinical information officer, told Digital Health News when the contract was announced in August 2014 that the trust wanted to move to a single system, whereas previously it had adopted a ‘best of breed’ approach to its EPR. 

“Clinicians are used to doing a lot of things, but they were frustrated with having multiple systems and multiple log-ons, and [the systems] didn’t always talk to each other,” he explained.

The trust had originally hoped to go-live in October 2015, but this date was pushed back. The subsequent go-live, however, was more extensive than originally planned, since it incorporated electronic prescribing in almost all areas from the outset.

In a statement about its go-live plans, West Suffolk said the new system will: “bring all available information about each patient into one place, making it easy to access from anywhere in the trust while improving safety, preventing duplication and reducing costs.

“It will also make it simpler for staff to double check information, which means they will no longer need to ask patients the same questions several times.”