UK Health IT Project Vendor Updates Lorenzo Software

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ISoft released on Tuesday its Lorenzo health-care platform, elements of which are already in use as part of the U.K.'s National Health Service's IT modernization program.

Lorenzo is a complex health-care platform that lets hospitals share patient records electronically, perform administration and manage finance and regulatory issues.

The release is a milestone for iSoft, which was acquired by IBA Health Group of Australia in July 2007 after accounting problems, executive turmoil and fierce criticism for slow delivery of Lorenzo to the NHS.

The latest release could put iSoft's U.K. partner, CSC, in a more competitive position for a larger slice of the NHS's IT program. Plans call for Lorenzo to be deployed in 60 percent of NHS hospitals in England.

CSC is deploying a specialized version of Lorenzo, called Lorenzo Regional Care, for the NHS project, said Gary Cohen, chairman and CEO of IBA.

CSC is competing with BT to equip the south and southeast regions of the country with a care records system after Fujitsu pulled out of a £896 million (US$1.4 billion) contract in May. BT installs Cerner Millennium, the same care records system as Fujitsu.

The new Lorenzo release has been in design for four years and tested over the last year in health organizations around Europe and the U.K., Cohen said.

The release is aimed at hospitals that want to establish a service-oriented architecture. It includes a software development toolkit called Lorenzo Health Studio that lets hospitals customize their applications according to their workflows and processes, Cohen said. Lorenzo can support 12,000 concurrent users without the service degrading and handle up to 90 million patient records, he said.

Lorenzo is designed to be configurable according to the needs of a hospital, with modules that can be added to the main platform, Cohen said.

Last week, the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, a hospital group in northwestern England, started using the U.K. version of the software, Lorenzo Regional Care 1. That software focuses on basic clinical functions. Morecambe Bay is still using a paper-based record system alongside Lorenzo while it gradually goes all electronic, Cohen said.

Lorenzo Regional Care will have three more phases before it's considered complete, Cohen said. The second iteration, which adds administration and more clinical functions, is being quality tested and should be ready for deployment to early adopters by March 2009, he said.

The third phase, which includes an electronic prescription capability, is being designed. The fourth version, which will add features for integrated health plans, enterprise-wide scheduling and primary care functions, will be designed and complete by the end of next year, Cohen said.

ISoft has undergone a thorough review following its previous turmoil and acquisition, Cohen said. Product road maps have been changed, management has been reorganized and costs have been trimmed, he said.

"We believe that the program that we set out when we bought the company is on track," Cohen said.

Cohen said that agreements with CSC and the NHS limit what he can publicly say about the NHS's modernization but that "this is a very large-scale project and a large-scale product. We are working with the customer to make sure it is rigorously tested and robust."

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