NPfIT Cerner: a user writes

Gordon Caldwell, a UK consultant in endocrinology and diabetes, writes to the IT Projects blog about a few of the practicalities of trying to make Cerner work. He says that its use in hospitals may require extra staff (which is the experience of trusts so far). Cerner’s software is due to be rolled out across London and the south of England as part of the NHS’s £12.7bn National Programme for IT [NPfIT].

Says Gordon Caldwell:

“Cerner demands of clinical staff that they do PAS [patient administration system] activities e.g. pre-schedule in real time in a busy clinic the next appointment, so that the clerk can complete the booking, which is maybe OK in a quiet 20 mins-per-slot clinic but impossible in a 5-mins-per-slot, 5-patients-at-a-time Orthopaedic fracture clinic, when the 5 simultaneous clinic lists cannot be seen in overview in [Cerner] PowerChart – they can all be seen in Appointment Book, but Appointment Book does not open into the clinical record.

“I have seen Veterans Software in action – it does all the Cerner stuff. I work with Cerner R0 every day, struggling with the PAS and Clinical screens, because I know I need to get it to work.

Homerton has done well out of direct dealing of hospital with Cerner, and Newcastle [which has bought Cerner systems outside of the National Programme for IT, from a US-based organisation] is doing the same – no middle man to create Chinese whispers.

“Provided in Newcastle they have clinicians who understand the importance of PAS, the many different ways that various clinicians and nurses work, management that believes in clinicians, and robust dealing with Cerner, it could work.

“They need to remember that USA hospitals are full of administrative staff, and are already used to inputting huge quantities of data so that they can get payment from insurance companies. Newcastle may need to budget for up to 5% extra salary bills for administrative staff to feed the beast.”


Newcastle’s break-away trust: NPfIT was taking forever – IT Projects blog, September 2008 

No warning for hospital of patient system problems – Computer Weekly, December 2006

Minister defensive over NPfIT cerner sites – IT Projects blog, Feb 2008