Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E) has gone live with a new electronic patient record from Epic.

At 4am on 10 October the trust launched MY CARE after approval was given by the trust’s board and NHS Improvement in June 2018.

Suzanne Tracey, the trust’s chief executive said, “MY CARE is the first programme in England to go live with Epic in both an acute hospital and in community-based health services so I am really proud that Devon will achieve this important digital milestone for the NHS.

“Our new EPR is set to replace traditional paper patient notes and means for the first time, every aspect of a person’s care will be recorded in real time. Our staff will no longer have to log-in to multiple computer systems, complete numerous paper documents and duplicate forms – meaning they will have more time to spend delivering care for patients.

“Over the coming months we will gradually roll out our new patient portal, called MY CARE, which provides patients, or someone they nominate, the ability to view their own care record anywhere and anytime via laptop, home computer or smartphone. The portal means they can see their upcoming appointments, change appointment times and see a range of results.

“I do, though, want to reassure patients that might be concerned or anxious about using new technology, or who don’t have access, that we will continue to use paper communications for patients who don’t use the portal.”

The programme, which needed £42million of funding from the trust board, includes both the Epic EPR and MyChart, a portal available via an app on clinicians’ smartphones or online.

Key features of the MyChart electronic medical record include: medical history, test results, secure messaging with providers, appointment scheduling and health reminders for overdue health maintenance screenings and wellness visits.

Professor Adrian Harris, the trust’s medical director and joint senior responsible officer for MY CARE, added: “Launching MY CARE in the midst of a global pandemic has been challenging, and while there is never going to be a perfect time to go live, the fact is MY CARE is a game changer for the RD&E. Going live now allows us to put in place this vital technology to help us manage what is likely to be a difficult winter, as we deal with the usual seasonal flu alongside a likely further surge in Covid-19 numbers.

“As you would expect, the trust has put in place safeguards to ensure that throughout the go-live period patient safety is maintained and disruption to patients is minimised.  We are going live at 4am to ensure hospital activity is as quiet as possible for the technical switch-on.

“We have trained over 1000 clinical and administrative ‘super users’ to assist colleagues during the go-live period. The RD&E has also been working with partner organisations to minimise admissions and expedite discharges during this time.

“As with all programmes of this scale, it is possible that patients may experience some delays in the period running up to the go-live date and for a few weeks afterward. We would ask that patients please bear with us as our staff get used to the new ways of working. Patient safety will remain the top priority during this time and our staff will all be working hard to keep any disruption to a minimum.”

This latest go live follows a number of NHS contract wins for Epic and was the topic of conversation a recent edition of the Digital Health Unplugged podcast.

Elias Stewart, Epic’s implementation director, added: “Patients at RD&E now have a single health record in Epic, so clinicians can work together and see up-to-date health information in any setting where a patient receives care.

“RD&E is the first NHS Trust using Epic for both acute and community-based services in one shared system. Having a comprehensive, unified patient health record will help them continue to coordinate excellent care amongst providers, patients, and families.”