Global digital exemplar Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust have nominated two digital “fast followers”, the first such trusts named under the next wave of NHS digital transformation.

The planned arrangement was revealed in the Somerset trust’s February board paper, which also showed the trust was in talks with Google and Apple about new technology partnerships.

“We also continue to work closely with our key EPR supplier, IMS, and have also had fruitful discussions with Google and Apple on how they can support our digital excellence agenda.”

Taunton and Somerset is one of 16 global digital exemplars, designated by NHS England to provide digital transformation “blueprints” for other, less digitally advanced, trusts.

Each exemplar can claim up to £10 million in central funding.

Last month, Digital Health News revealed that the first 20 of these next wave trusts, the so-called “fast followers”, would be announced later this year, with each eligible for up to £5 million to digitally transform.

Taunton and Somerset has nominated Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Wye Valley NHS Trust as fast follower partners.

All three trusts are IMS Maxims customers and have, or will, deploy the company’s openMaxims electronic patient record. Taunton and Somerset was the first trust in England to deploy an IMS Maxims EPR.

Blackpool and Wye Valley both provide acute and community services.

Wye Valley, which runs one of the smallest rural hospital in the country in Herefordshire, signed up with IMS Maxims in August, 2015. OpenMaxims, when it’s deployed, will replace CSC’s i.PM patient administration system used by both its community and acute services.

Blackpool signed-up with IMS Maxims in January last year, and will openMaxims will replace its Hearts patient administration system, installed in 1992.

Both prospective fast followers have previously delayed the deployment of openMaxims.

While the three trusts are not geographical close, Digital Health News understand most other fast followers are likely to partnered with neighbouring exemplar.

IMS Maxims chief clinical information officer Michael Thick said the fast follower programme would formalise the relationship that already existed between the trust’s as IMS Maxim customers.

Wye Valley and Blackpool will use the blueprint set-out by Taunton and Somerset to deploy their own EPR and other systems, he said.

“These blueprints will provide a proven track record that it can be done and support confidence in the suppliers.”

The biggest risks to the fast follower and exemplar programmes remain that the centre may not be able to fund the blueprints or organisations would be lose momentum faced with other pressures.

“There is a risk the money will never arrive. It’s happened before.”

Thick said NHS England has not yet signed off on Taunton and Somerset’s blueprint and, like other exemplars, the trust had yet to receive any exemplar funding.

Steven Bloor, chief information officer at Blackpool Teaching, said the trust already had a programme of work that was “strategically aligned” with Taunton and Somerset.

If approved, Bloor said much of the money would go straight into developing new IMS products that could benefit the NHS as a whole.

“The fast follower status would give us more scope to develop new products together.”

Despite still waiting for funding, board papers show Taunton is moving forward “at pace” with its digital exemplar work.

This has included working with new “digital partner” suppliers, including a Slovenian company for e-prescribing and a Dutch company for new desktop and mobile apps.

Taunton and Somerset bid to become an exemplar, released to Digital Health News under the Freedom of Information Act, emphasised that it used an open platform and “history of developing once and sharing with others”.

Developments planned include:

  • New clinical apps for noting, assessment and planning.
  • Automated e-observation and clinical decision support tools.
  • Generating anonymous population health data across Somerset and sharing health information through Open FHIR APIs across the area.
  • Introducing patient access to health and care information from across Somerset.

Taunton and Somerset was contacted for this story but did not provide comment before publication.