Deployment of new hospital systems under the national programme for information technology involves several key stages between initial preparation for implementation through to go live, during which a number of important organisational and technical activities have to be completed, including planning, training, testing and clinical safety assessments. All the stages in the run-up to completion of go live involve some transfer of data from legacy systems to local service provider systems, though legacy systems remain live and in service until the process is complete. These arrangements are quite typical of major information technology systems deployments in both the public and private sectors.
The process will normally take several weeks, involving anything between 0.5 million and up to 10 million records. The time scale in each particular case is dependent on a number of factors, largely to do with the size of the trust and any complexities identified during data migration. These might include difficulties in collating data from legacy systems, or the need to incorporate specific local requirements late in the process of implementation.
Systems deployed under the national programme are now in place in every acute trust, and in some 98 per cent. of general practices. Almost 17,000 systems have now been delivered with around 330,000 national health service users. New systems are supplied every week to support one or more of patient administration, theatre management, accident and emergency and mental health unit, ambulance services, pathology services, and many more.