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Blackpool becomes third NHS trust to get open-source EPR

Open-source electronic patient records continue to gain traction in the NHS as Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust signs up

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the third UK health trust to decide to implement the open-source electronic patient record system (EPR) from supplier IMS Maxims.

The trust began implementing the EPR in December and aims to go live within the next 12 months.

Blackpool already uses IMS Maxims’ HeartsS patient administration system, and the new five-year contract will see it complete a full upgrade to the openMAXIMS system, while replacing its theatre and emergency department systems. It also has future plans to roll out order communications and results reporting.

Steven Bloor, the trust’s chief information officer, said he expects the open-source approach to “cost at least 60% less than a traditional proprietary route”.

“The trust is a big supporter of the move towards open source within the NHS and always considers open-source options first when procuring IT,” he said.

“We want to not only gain more efficient patient care by using the most advanced EPR available, but at the same time achieve value for money through an open and collaborative roadmap for ongoing software development.”

The trust already uses the VIPER360 clinical portal from Restart and plans to roll out CSC’s MedChart electronic prescribing system this year. One of the reasons it chose the open-source EPR is that it integrates with any existing system without having to develop new APIs, said Bloor.

“When I speak to people about open source in the NHS, I say: why wouldn’t you consider it as an option?” he added.  

The trust decided to take a best-of-breed approach to its IT in 2014 after it changed the scope of its original EPR implementation. 

Read more about open source in the NHS

  • The Code4Health movement is growing into a series of communities focused on driving innovation and technology in the NHS.
  • Taunton and Somerset’s IT director Malcolm Senior on what NHS trusts need to think about when using open-source technologies.

In 2009, the trust signed a contract with A&E system supplier Alert Life Sciences to become the first NHS trust to use the supplier for a full EPR solution. However, after deferring the go-live twice, the trust decided to  use the Alert system only in A&E. The trust’s community services use the Emis EPR, which went live last year.

Open source is an increasingly popular choice in the NHS, with NHS England actively supporting trusts that want to use open-source software.

Last year, the NHS open-source movement launched an openMaxims community interest company (CIC) to guide the development of the open-source EPR for the NHS. Blackpool is one of the CIC’s founding members. 

Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust became the first NHS trust to go live with the EPR last year, and Wye Valley NHS Trust, the second to take the system, aims to go live at the end of 2016.

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