• Torbay and South Devon Foundation Trust may select Epic as new electronic health record provider
  • System would be hosted by neighbouring trust
  • Outline business case for project expected by end of 2019

An acute, community and social care trust is considering linking up with its neighbour to get American company Epic as its new provider of electronic patient records.

Chiefs at Torbay and South Devon Foundation Trust want a new “integrated electronic health record system” to give their staff “fast, flexible and secure access to information” across its acute and community services, a spokeswoman told HSJ.

The spokeswoman confirmed that Epic’s Connect system is one of the options currently being considered by the trust, which currently uses several different systems for its electronic health records.

The system would be hosted by neighbouring Royal Devon and Exeter FT, which secured approval from NHS Improvement last summer to implement a £42m project involving Epic’s software.

“We are increasingly providing networked services across various locations and want to make sure our IT systems support our staff in delivering new ways of working,” the Torbay and South Devon FT spokeswoman said.

Go-live for RD&E is scheduled for summer 2020. At the time of the announcement, the trust also advertised 75 IT jobs to support the implementation, which prompted concerns from Torbay and South Devon FT of a “brain-drain” (staff moving from Torbay to Exeter), according to its board papers.

Cambridge University Hospitals FT was the first NHS trust to roll out Epic’s system, in 2014, but the process incurred financial problems and caused the trust to be placed in special measures.

However, it is now a global digital exemplar trust, and part of Torbay and South Devon FT’s preparations involve going to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge to see the system.

Last October, Torbay and South Devon FT’s finance, performance and investment committee approved an “Epic strategic outline business case”, according to the trust’s board papers.

It is not clear if or when the trust will launch a procurement for a new electronic health record provider.

The spokeswoman said an outline business case to take the work to the next stage will be submitted to the trust’s board towards the end of this year.

University College London Hospitals and Great Ormond Street Hospital FTs have also chosen Epic as their new electronic health record supplier.