The deployment of a VNA (vendor neutral archive) based platform as a first step to a proper, working EPR (electronic patient record) at a major Liverpool hospital is definitely a first for British health informatics.
Let’s look in a bit more detail at what shaped this decision by the pioneering Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust.
The driver for considering VNA was, notably, not anything to do with building an EPR. In fact, it was much more prosaic – it was due to the need to replace an ageing PACS imaging system.
That need became more acute in the period when the NHS Connecting for Health National Programme for IT was introduced, says the Royal. Its response: its technology upgrade might need to go much wider.
The Trust decided on a truly open platform so it could go beyond the scope of PACS and store and manage other content alongside medical images. “To maximise the benefits, we decided to integrate our VNA plans with our electronic document and records management strategy, using the same infrastructure,” is the view of the Trust’s CIO, James Norman.
You will understand what a privilege it us for us to work with the Trust’s team. The Trust is one of the top NHS teaching institutions in the UK, with well-established links to the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University and international institutions. Each year the Trust sees more than half a million people in its outpatient department and it deals with around 150,000 emergency patients and day case admissions. So the fact that this size of NHS Trust has selected our technology to meet its future plans is a genuine honour.
The Trust, incidentally, selected our VNA because of our experience and our unique relationship with IT giant EMC – the acknowledged market leader in enterprise document management. We have enormous experience with its system, the Documentum Enterprise Content Management suite.
We hope this engagement is the first of many examples of using VNA as the way to a true EPR. Something tells me it is – even though there is a lot of work to do in order to get there.