NHS’s biggest Lorenzo roll-out said to be mainly on-track

NHS Trust, EMR
“This was by far the biggest and most complex Lorenzo deployment across the NHS”

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust confident big health IT system will deliver the goods

[Hull, UK] The largest NHS user of the Lorenzo electronic patient record (EPR) says it has faith it made the right decision – despite some ongoing issues with staff acceptance.

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust’s experience of bedding in the EPR is the subject of a probe by local press, who went in to talk to clinicians about their day-to-day experience of the new system.

That’s because a lot is riding on the success of the software - reported as being an investment of at least £5.6m, balanced by an unknown surplus amount from the Department of Health.

"This was by far the biggest and most complex Lorenzo deployment across the NHS, requiring a monumental effort from our staff," Martyn Smith, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust’s Director of IT and innovation confirmed to reporters.

E-prescription success and safer radiology processes

To get the system up and running, over 100 million records with a billion pieces of data were transferred from the Trust’s previous IT systems at Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital.

In addition to Lorenzo generating new electronic records for every patient, the project has also involved the in-house replacement of over 2,000 computers and printers, he added.

With the vast majority of his 8,000 colleagues using the new system every day since deployment in June 2015, about 5,000 were trained in the new system at launch – a task Smith acknowledges was a tough one: "Getting more than 5,000 people trained and familiar with a new system was a huge challenge, and it proved difficult getting all of those to undertake the necessary training prior to 'go-live' for a variety of reasons."

Smith says staff have taken time to adapt to Lorenzo after using the previous IT system for 15 years – but then points to a wide variety of proven benefits the Trust has seen in the past six months.

These include doctors and nurses being able to view more than 850,000 test results instantly, without the need to wait for paper results, while nurses can find out vital information such as a patient's allergies much faster, meaning quicker and safer care.

Electronic prescribing of medication for patients ready to go home also means information can be passed on instantly to the GP, while ordering of radiology and pathology tests has been adapted to include safety questions - preventing serious mistakes, says Smith.

Teething problems do remain

But while staff at Hull Royal's emergency department are said to have "fully embraced" the new system, linking up with Yorkshire Ambulance Service to obtain a patient's condition before the arrival of the ambulance at the hospital, some headaches remain.

Internal critics allege, for example, that some patients on waiting lists have been given just a day's notice to attend appointments, and that  records have not been updated with current information.

Some staff felt the system is too slow, had forgotten their training by the time they had to use it, and others are still resistant to the new way of working it necessitates, the paper reports.

But with the system claiming to be  on track to save the Trust at least £1m annually thanks to going paperless, Smith and the rest of the management team at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust say they’re sure the EPR will soon be declared a winner by patients and staff alike.