In a move that is expected to help staff provide better patient care through improved access to information, Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust has become the first NHS hospital in the UK to go live with an open source electronic patient record (EPR).
With the support of software firm IMS MAXIMS, the trust has launched the system in A&E, theatres, outpatients and the hospital’s 30 wards. IMS MAXIMS released the code for its open source EPR technology to the NHS just over a year ago.
Shane Tickell, CEO of IMS MAXIMS, has described the news as a “significant step for the next generation of clinical software”.
“Technology disruption is not a phrase closely associated with healthcare but this proves there is a place for proven, safe, flexible software to add considerable clinical and administrative benefit to hospitals and their neighbouring care organisations,” he said.
Hitherto, NHS trusts have relied on “proprietary software” in order to record and manage patient records. Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust has broken out of this mould, and is now using openMAXIMS software as a way to create “accurate, accessible and integrated care records” that enable staff to provide more efficient care for patients at Musgrove Park Hospital.
Malcolm Senior, director of IT at the trust, has commented on the affordable and supple nature of openMAXIMS.
“With the NHS looking to reduce the projected £30bn a year funding gap by 2020/21, there is now, more than ever, a clear requirement to make the most of precious hospital resources,” he said.
“For me, openMAXIMS represents an affordable, flexible system that will deliver the functionality we need. Our clinicians have found it intuitive to use and have taken to it very well.”
The benefits of an open software approach
NHS England has previously supported an open software approach due to its flexible nature and the fact that it enables NHS organisations to purchase systems, share innovation and fast-track technology developments.
Open source technology is also thought to give doctors and nurses the opportunity to become “engaged in the deployment of major IT systems” (enabling IT teams and developers to design and implement software that matches the real, clinical needs of the organisation using it).
Dr Chris Swinburn, clinical lead for the project at the trust, has spoken about the implementation of the software:
“Our clinicians have been involved right from the start, from influencing the procurement of the software right through to the design of the system to suit our clinical needs and processes.
“We wanted to work with IMS MAXIMS because its system has been created over a long time within an NHS environment and developed alongside clinicians.
“Following the go-live, we believe we have developed a robust EPR system that can be replicated in other hospitals. This can deliver wide reaching benefits across the NHS.”
‘A landmark moment’
According to IMS MAXIMS, key functionalities in the programme include:
- “The patient administration system that will record the demographic details, scheduling and referral to treatment (RTT) status of the trust’s 500,000 patient visits each year
- “Theatre and anaesthetic departments will be able to update records digitally, much faster than previous paper-based processes
- “The new technology has provided an opportunity to make processes for admission, transfer and discharge of patients more efficient and coordinated with the help of real-time bed management and discharge planning
- “A reduced dependency on paper notes means the trust is working towards the national ambition within NHS England’s Five Year Forward View to ensure electronic health records are fully interoperable, supporting health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s challenge for the NHS to be paperless by 2018”
Richard Jefferson, head of programme commissioning at NHS England, has commended the fact that openMAXIMS has gone live in an NHS hospital.
“We are delighted to see the first deployment of openMAXIMS going live in an NHS hospital. This represents a landmark moment in the use of open software in the NHS and validates the idea that open source can play a significant role alongside proprietary offerings.
“The growing number of open source communities such as those within NHS England’s Code4health initiative are an exciting opportunity to deliver innovation, quality and value through collaboration and are putting clinicians at the heart of decisions.
“openMAXIMS is a great example of this, and essential to its success has been the dedication and true partnership between Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and IMS MAXIMS.”