Lorenzo launched in shadow of UK NHS debate

DHBs question integration and interoperability with existing systems

ISoft has introduced its next-generation e-health solution to the New Zealand market, claiming that it is the answer to the problems of integration and interoperability.

The Australian-listed health information technology company has a presence at all 21 district health boards, mainly though providing patient management systems.

Lorenzo was developed as a key component of the UK National Health Service’s National Programme for IT (NPfIT) to connect patient records on a national scale. At £12.7 billion, NPfIT is the biggest civilian IT project in the world and has been heavily criticised.

iSoft chief executive Gary Cohen says the many problems of the project that have been written about have been exaggerated. “We’re light years ahead of where they were five years ago. Over the next one to two years, we will see a major transformation,” he says.

“It’s a very political process. It’s not true that it hasn’t delivered.”

At the Auckland launch, questions from the floor were heavily focused on issues of integration with existing systems. One member of the audience from Southland DHB said its main concern was integration between Lorenzo and other software from iSoft and its owner, Australian Securities Exchange-listed IBA Health. Questions were also asked about whether Lorenzo would supercede the existing software and how it would integrate with emergency department software.

ISoft spokespeople described Lorenzo as a platform and architecture, built on a service oriented architecture, where components (or services) can be reused and compiled to reflect clinical processes. they emphasised exposed application programming interfaces and adherence to SOA standards as easing integration.

Lorenzo is written in Microsoft’s .NET.

IBA bought iSoft in October 2007 after iSoft got into trouble over failure to deliver Lorenzo on time for the NHS project. It delisted iSoft from the London Stock Exchange and took over contracts to supply Lorenzo to IT services company CSC, the prime contractor for NPfIT. The company is now listed on the Australian Securities Exchange as iSoft.

There are two development streams for Lorenzo: the regional care version for the UK project; and an international version, which is being launched in New Zealand.

“It’s an opportunity for New Zealand to have a national health record that is totally interoperable,” Cohen says. “It’s based on a migration strategy.” He wouldn’t put a figure on the likely cost for New Zealand hospitals to upgrade.

Last week, the UK opposition Conservatives signalled once again their intention to scrap custom-built patient record solutions in favour of “off-the-shelf” solutions from the likes of Microsoft and Google in an apparent retreat from NPfIT.

Cohen told The Dominion Post last week a nationwide electronic health records system would cost at least US$300 million (NZ$447m). He also confirmed iSoft would participate in any tender resulting from investigations by a coalition of seven district health boards, called the Health Management System Collaborative, into a new shared health information system.

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