Allscripts has become the latest American supplier to make an impact on the NHS IT scene, with two electronic patient record contract wins announced over the past few months.
The company has won EPR tenders at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital and Salford Royal NHS foundation trusts; although it lost out to US rival, Epic, for the huge eHospital project that is being led by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
It is now looking to make more inroads into the NHS market. Recent expansions in countries such as Canada and Singapore – which have “similarities” with the UK healthcare market - have provided the company with the strength and confidence to make its mark here, says Allscripts’ president, Lee Shapiro.
Roll-out programmes at Liverpool Heart and Chest and Salford Royal have commenced and are being led by the company’s 25-strong UK team. Shapiro acknowledges this is “fairly lean”, but he is confident that implementation will go to plan.
“As we continue to grow we will be expanding our hiring in the UK, bringing in additional implementation consultants,” he says. “We are fortunate in that we have a very robust global services team and we are able to draw on those teams to provide a very rapid expansion on the types of services our clients need in the UK.”
Not totally new
Allscripts products are far from completely unknown in the UK. Its predecessor company, Eclipsys, licensed the deployment of its Sunrise Clinical Manager system to iSoft (now part of CSC), which then sold the product to a number of NHS trusts as iCM.
However, the company is keen to stress that the latest version of the product is moving away from the traditional patient administration space and is focussing on providing a comprehensive electronic health record.
Shapiro said: “The focus for us, and what might be different to the North American systems that were marketed into the UK in the past, is we come to the market with a very rich tradition in clinical operations.
“The EHR that is used for monitoring patient information, using that information in ways that can gain insights into how to best advance patient care through advanced analytics.
“That’s a message that seems to be resonating quite well in the NHS, where those organisations that we have been speaking to want an environment in which you can add systems that will assist them in making the decisions that they need to make.”
Shapiro claims the transition from iSoft systems to the latest version of Sunrise Clinical Manager is “relatively easy”, since the product does not need to be Anglicised, and data can be migrated from one to another.
“We have been able to successfully uncover the data out of their [trust] systems and to put it into the solutions that they are now adopting from us,” he says. “That has been quite positive for our clients.”
Modern and mobile products
Shapiro adds that Sunrise Clinical Manager is an open platform to which other systems can be added. “Where we are fortunate is that our system is quite flexible,” he says.
“Being open allows our technology to interconnect with other systems, which is very important to our clients,” he says.
“We have been able to provide them with a solution that gives them the capability to connect to some of the other systems in their departments, as opposed to requiring them to rip and replace all of their legacy systems. This provides a great return on their investment.”
The company’s product suite also includes a mobile module that it plans to offer to its UK customers. Sunrise Mobile MD II will allow clinicians to access information using the latest technology from Apple, including the iPad, iPhone and iTouch.
And it includes a portal that can be extended to patients, creating what Allscripts calls a “community of health.”
“Each of our implementations will have access to our patient portal solution,” Shapiro says.“We believe in this notion of having a connected community of health. We have been spending time speaking with our clients in the UK on how we can share information from the hospital facilities to the GPs in the community.
“We are hoping to achieve a community of health where information is shared quite broadly when a patient is admitted to the hospital and when the patient leaves hospital there is a sharing of information about the instructions.”
For the moment, Allscripts has its eyes set firmly on implementing hospital systems in the UK, yet Shapiro indicated that this could potentially change, as the company provides more than 50,000 “physician offices” in the USA.
Shapiro says the company is involved in a number of tender processes, but will not commit on how many trusts Allscripts are hoping to win in the next couple of years, as the National Programme for IT in the NHS winds down, and trusts increasingly make their own decisions.
He merely reiterates that the stating that its desire is to “grow” and that the measurement of success will be done in “small steps.”
“It is our hope that as we fish out this period of continuance next year, that we would look forward to having more opportunities. We are quite ambitious in terms of what our objectives are in the market place.
“We see an opportunity now with our [new] clients. As we move forward and roll-out to those organisations, they will become lighthouses - if you will - points of light for other organisations who will want to see these systems operating in the UK.”
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