Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is switching to Cerner, and creating a single shared electronic patient record with a neighbouring trust.

The London trust will share the Millennium EPR with the adjoining Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which has been running the system in parts of its hospital since May 2014.

The trust will not only share an EPR but a chief information officer, with Imperial’s Kevin Jerrold assuming the role across both trusts this week.

Jarrold is perhaps best known as the former chief information officer and programme director of the NHS London Programme for IT, but more recently he has led the deployment of Cerner at Imperial.

Speaking to Digital Health News, Jarrold said the decision to share a single instance had arisen “quite recently” after Chelsea and Westminster had selected Cerner as its preferred supplier through a competitive tender.

While the two trusts will have separate contracts, by sharing the same domain Chelsea and Westminster has been able to obtain a discount on the EPR purchase, which is being funded without central support.

“I think this is going to become an increasingly popular model,” Jarrold said.

The Cerner joint-system will cover seven hospitals that care for about two million patients across central London. Clinical information held within one trust should be accessible from the other, and the trusts will work jointly to integrate the technology with other health and social care systems.

Imperial's initial deployment of a Cerner PAS and in maternity in 2014 ran into difficulties. It was delayed for 12 months after suffering from data reporting issues post-deployment.

But Jarrold said the system had since improved and was now being used in the emergency department, theatres and for clinical documents across the trust.

“We have the highest number of clinical users [on Cerner in a single trust] in the country.”

The partnership will allow Chelsea and Westminster to leverage the clinical content developed within Cerner at Imperial in the past two years, while Imperial will benefit from a wider range of clinical input for further improving the system, he said.

In a statement provided to Digital Health News, Cerner UK and Ireland general manager Geoff Segal said the partnership between the trusts would “drive clinical collaboration and care pathway harmonisation at a scale that’s not been done before”.

“Cerner are thrilled to be the platform of choice and we look forward to doing ground breaking work with Chelsea and Westminster and Imperial.”

Zoe Penn, Chelsea and Westminster medical director, said the new joint EPR was a “tried and trusted system and approach to rollout as well as improved, more joined up care for our patients”.

Julian Redhead, Imperial College medical director said the joint EPR would allow the trusts to pooled experience “gives us far more scope to improve services for patients than if we were working alone”.

Chelsea and Westminster is one of only two trusts running the LastWord EPR from IDX Systems Corporation, which is now owned GE Healthcare. During the early days of the National Programme for IT, IDX was intended to be rolled-out across London but was later dropped in favour of Cerner.

In 2012, the trust announced it would replace “much of the functionality” of the 13-year-old IDX system, including its PAS, e-prescribing and communications.

Jarrold said these plans had changed last year, when Chelsea and Westminster merged with West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, and found the latter was running an IT set-up that could not be switched to LastWord.

There are not any firm timeframes for deployment but Jarrold said West Middlesex Hospital was likely to go-live first, starting the PAS, emergency department and order comms, followed by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

“It’s two very different implementation and two different data migration challenges.”