Two major NHS trusts are preparing to exchange information on shared patients from their different electronic patient record systems.

West Suffolk and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS foundation trusts are in the final phases of testing to share data from their Cerner and Epic systems respectively. Two-way technical connectivity between the EPRs is already in place.

In a joint statement to Digital Health News, Afzal Chaudhry, Cambridge University Hospitals’ chief medical information officer, and Dermot O'Riordan, chief clinical information officer at West Suffolk, said: “To our knowledge this is the first working example in the UK of interoperability between two major providers using different electronic health record products.

“Both West Suffolk and Cambridge University Hospitals, working with the full collaboration of Cerner and Epic, are very proud of this ground-breaking development that will enhance the care and safety of our shared patients. It is an example of our mutual commitment to interoperability.”

The information available across both trusts will include; problems, medication, allergies, past medical history, recent results, details of procedures and operations and discharge summaries. Additional relevant material could be transferred on a patient by patient basis.

Geoff Segal, general manager for Cerner UK and Ireland, said the company was “pleased to be part of an interoperability effort like this.”

Clinicians will have read only access to records from the other trust and all usage will be logged and monitored.

Cambridge went live with Epic’s EPR in October 2014 as part of a £200 million IT overhaul, and was the first trust in the UK to implement the American company’s EPR. However, the deployment quickly ran into problems that were contributed to it being put into special measures by Monitor; although Epic insists that in the long-term the project will be recognised as a major succes.

West Suffolk went live with a £19 million Cerner EPR called e-Care on 30 April 2016, and when Digital Health News spoke to O’Riordan three weeks after the launch he described it as going “at least as well as expected.”  

Three months after the go-live, O’Riordan said, “we were a big bang go-live, a new implementation, and we made it work without any hiccups.”

O’Riordan said phase two has now been enabled and would include; a patient portal, implementation of paediatrics, complex documentation and mobile and remote working. This deployment will be phased in gradually throughout the year.

West Suffolk’s 24 June board papers stated that e-Care still required “significant further work to do in terms of stabilisation, adoption and optimisation”, but that the “overall view of the go-live and early life support phase is positive”.

Elsewhere in the country, Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Barts Health NHS Trust were the first trusts in the UK to establish data sharing between their Cerner Health Information Exchanges in July, covering a population of 1.3 million people.

* Cambridge: big bang reality
* London hospitals in UK-first health data exchange
And breathe: West Suffolk the other side of its Cerner go-live