I’m going to share a few experiences from Trusts I’ve come across in my time in the EPR market and delve into the ins and outs of a successful EPR delivery.
Firstly, however, the basics.
For those of my contacts who are unaware of what it actually is, an EPR is an ‘Electronic Patient Record’.
In more defined terms, it is the systemised collection of patient and population electronically stored health information in a digital format. These records can be shared across different health care settings, such as dental, mental health, GP’s and primary and secondary care.
Costly and Time-consuming affair
A quality delivery of an EPR is not only a time-consuming affair, but also a costly one. For example, recently a northern trust initially estimated a £7.5m budget for the delivery of their EPR. This was before ongoing delays in the deployment of Cerner Millennium.
Following the additional time needed in order to complete the deployment, the Trust then forecasted that the an extra £4.75m would be needed in order to complete the project and that the delays would have a direct knock-on effect onto the other parts of the Trust. Not good!
The Trust eventually delivered Cerner successfully in 2016 and was followed in suit by Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. They shared a £30m split with neighbours Calderdale & Huddersfield – £12m and £18m respectively.
Now, not all delays are avoidable and some are with others’ best interests in heart. So, what were the causes of these costly holdbacks?
Last year Bradford put a hold on the project due to the harsh winter expected. This was to ensure the safe transfer of patients from the legacy system. It was a time-consuming delay, but a smart move which eventually led to the successful go-live earlier this year.
In our everyday lives these figures are mind-boggling. I sometimes struggle to part with a fiver at the sandwich van. However, when it comes to an EPR implementation, millions of pounds are just your everyday currency.
In the press, the NHS takes a hammering for their overspends. When you see the figures associated with an EPR implementation, you have to ask the question: “Is it really worth it?” Bearing in mind that following a deployment, it can sometimes take a considerable amount of time before its full benefits are seen (Cambridge and Epic).
However, from an overall perspective, are there really more important systems within a Trust than an EPR?
The implementation of a new system is designed to improve efficiency, patient flow and documentation. However, in my view, the importance of patient safety is always top of the agenda.
So really, the overall question must be, what price do you place on patient safety?
It doesn’t matter if it is the most expensive EPR implementation in history. If just one patient benefits from the sharp decrease of human error a new deployment brings, then, in my eyes, it’s worth its weight in gold.
I would like to put this to the floor and ask the question: Financially, is an EPR worth it?