NHS should never treat EPRs as IT projects says Oracle Cerner UK VP – TechToday

Oracle Cerner UK vice president and managing director Distie Profit has said that the NHS should never treat the implementation of electronic patient records (EPRs) as IT projects and should instead see’ ls as an “enhancement of the transformation process”.

Profit spoke exclusively to Digital Health News at the Oracle CloudWorld Tour in London last week, an event that looked at how companies are solving their most complex business challenges with the help of Oracle technology.

Oracle completed the acquisition of Cerner last year in a deal worth around £22.4 billion, marking a major step in the health and care sector. As one of the world’s leading EPR providers with already strong relationships within the NHS, Cerner’s EPR implementation was a key topic of conversation.

An opportunity rather than a challenge

When asked about some of the unique challenges the NHS faces in implementing EPR, Profit was quick to dismiss the idea that it is a challenge for trusts to have an EPR in place.

“I like to call them opportunities because I don’t necessarily think it’s a challenge, I think it’s a real opportunity,” he said.

“And I think the opportunity is to never deal with it [EPR implementation] like a computer project. Everything must be seen as an improvement of the transformation process and this goes from clinical, operational, financial, workforce management, every component.

“If it’s treated as an IT project, the NHS will continue to do old processes, so I think the biggest opportunity is to use technology and digitize all health and care services.”

He added that technology should be used as an “enabler” to refine the current process and way doctors work so that better outcomes for patients can be achieved, with EPRs playing a key role in transforming way the NHS works.

NHS success stories

Oracle Cerner has a number of NHS customers across the country who have enjoyed significant improvements both operationally and for patients, Profit said in his interview with Digital Health News.

The most prominent example he referred to was the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, which he said has “done a lot of really good things in thinking about and using electronic health records across the Royal Free group” and thinking about how “they use” to digitize the healthcare channels to standardize the care”.

Royal Free is a “successful, multifaceted example of how they use technology for health, and have seen huge efficiency gains across their organization using the electronic patient record,” added Profit .

He also highlighted the great work and results achieved by Imperial, Milton Keynes and Newcastle. Oracle Cerner’s NHS customers are not just implementing EPR, he added, but connecting several different systems to ensure there is enough data for doctors and patients.

The impact of Oracle

Profit was quick to point out that “the Cerner acquisition is not Oracle’s first foray into healthcare,” adding that they have been active in healthcare, just “not as robustly in the clinical”. Although Cerner was well connected and had done good work with the NHS for decades before the acquisition, the opportunities and ability to make a difference have been expanded with the help of Oracle and the ability to access to additional resources, he said.

“It gives us the full picture and the ability to work with our clients and individual trusts, but also regionally and nationally,” he told Digital Health News.

“We can now work not only from a clinical information perspective, but also link clinical information and operational information, which is very helpful in reducing the backlog of financial information, as well as supply chain information because Oracle works in almost all of these areas.”

No comment on the government’s EPR targets

In early 2022, the then health secretary, Sajid Javid, announced that the government had set a target for 90% of NHS trusts to have an EPR in place by December 2023, and 10% remaining in the implementation process.

Profit declined to comment on government targets, saying Cerner and Oracle are just “one piece” of that and are “definitely doing their part.” “A whole ecosystem of players needs to be involved in this,” he added.

He said that after the pandemic “not all the information that should and should be readily available was available and so I applaud the government for making it such a high priority and now is the time to do it”.

Following Oracle’s acquisition of Cerner last year, Profit believes Oracle Cerner “has a great relationship with the NHS, at every level directly with our customers, as well as regionally and nationally.”

“I believe the relationship between Oracle Health and Oracle Cerner will continue to grow and be very strong as we help emerge with information and data,” he concluded.

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The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK should take heed of the advice of Oracle Cerner UK VP, Alan Moore, who has said that electronic patient record (EPR) systems should never be treated as IT projects. According to Moore, the EPR should be looked at not only as a piece of technology, but also as an opportunity to fundamentally reshape the way healthcare is provided and managed.

Given the massive scale and long investment cycles of the NHS, Moore believes that viewing the EPR as solely an IT project could limit the potential of the system to provide a truly transformational experience. An IT-only approach often results in technical features being implemented in a vacuum, without consideration for how those features would integrate into existing operational methods and standards.

At Ikaroa, we specialize in the kind of technology transformation that is needed to make the NHS’s EPR system a success. We understand that effective digital systems require more than just technical competence; it is also crucial to understand the culture and history of organizations, as well as the motivations behind particular solutions. We provide an end-to-end suite of customized digital solutions for the healthcare industry that stretch beyond mere IT projects and focus on improving healthcare access and delivery in the long run.

From Moore’s emphasis on utilizing EPR’s potential to drive significant improvements in the way healthcare works, it is clear that the NHS must take a holistic approach to its digital transformation. At Ikaroa, we have the necessary technical and operational expertise to help the NHS make the most of their technology investments, while also supporting the desired levels of care, integrity, and transparency as they work towards their long-term goals.


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