UPDATED: IT system glitches prove costly for EMIS

HEALTHCARE software developer Emis Group is expected to suffer a financial hit running into millions of pounds after it failed to meet certain service levels and reporting obligations with NHS Digital.

Andy Thorburn of EMIS
Andy Thorburn of EMIS

The Yorkshire Post understands that the problems at EMIS are due to low level IT system glitches which had no clinical or patient safety implications.

These glitches are understood to have included patients receiving multiple copies of the same SMS text - mobile phone text messages - for appointment reminders with their GP.

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In a statement, Leeds-based EMIS said: “The board of EMIS Group announces that, following a review of customer and product support processes led by the group’s new CEO, it has identified that there has been a failure to meet certain service levels and reporting obligations with NHS Digital, relating to the group’s EMIS web product for GPs in England.

“These findings have been fully disclosed to NHS Digital, having only very recently come to the board’s attention.”

The statement continued: “We are currently working in collaboration with NHS Digital to confirm the scale of the issue and assess the full service and contractual impact; however, we confirm that neither patient safety nor patient data has been put at risk as a result of this issue.

“It is too early to quantify precisely the financial impact of this issue but in light of the current position, our estimate is that this will be in the order of upper single digits of millions of pounds. We will update the market as appropriate.”

“Save for the matter described above, the group has traded in line with the board’s expectations for the year ended December 31 2017 and will shortly be making a separate trading update announcement.”

Andy Thorburn, the group chief executive of EMIS Group plc, said: “I am very disappointed to find that in this area we have fallen behind the high standards of customer and product support that NHS Digital and our wider customer base have rightly come to expect of us.

“We have committed to resolve this situation to the satisfaction of NHS Digital and our users as soon as possible.”

The company helps healthcare professionals share vital information to improve the quality of patient care.

EMIS Health products, including the flagship EMIS Web, hold more than 40 million patient records and are used by more than 100,000 professionals in nearly 6,000 healthcare organisations.

The group’s healthcare software is used in primary, community and acute care.

Last September, EMIS said it had delivered a “solid” half year performance, despite facing a challenging political environment for the NHS.

EMIS said the half-year results were in line with the board’s expectations as the group continued to benefit from growing recurring revenue, strong market shares, a good order book and a developing pipeline.

Last September, EMIS said NHS England had been progressing with its plans for the 44 locally-based Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs), which were announced in 2016 to transform healthcare services, “bringing together NHS and local authorities around the needs of local people”.

These have been underpinned by Local Digital Roadmaps to merge health and social care records across the STP areas, EMIS said. Around half of the group’s 1,800 staff are based in Leeds.

Mr Thorburn, who became CEO in May last year, was previously group chief operating officer of Digicel, the Caribbean and South Pacific based communications and entertainment provider.

Before this, he was chief executive officer of Digicel Caribbean and Central America and chief executive officer of Digicel Jamaica.

Last year, Mr Thorburn said EMIS was recruiting skilled staff in Yorkshire at a time when other technology businesses in the region seemed to be doing well, which was leading to a very competitive labour market.

EMIS Group was founded in March 1987 as Egton Medical Information Systems by Dr Peter Sowerby and Dr David Stables, who were both GPs in Egton, North Yorkshire, and Tony Jones.

They identified an opportunity to develop and supply practice management software to GP practices at a time when GPs’ systems and records were largely paper based.

The group’s first GP clinical software, named ‘EMIS’, had a character based user interface and was developed from 1987, with full commercial roll-out taking place in 1990. EMIS Group was listed on the AIM market in 2010.