University College London Hospitals NHS Trust has become the first in the country to go live with the new electronic patient administration system (PAS) that will become the standard for all hospitals in London.

The move puts the trust at the leading edge of NHS IT, making it the first big acute hospital trust to go live with one of the clinical systems to be delivered by the NHS IT modernisation programme.

Over the weekend UCLH switched off its old PAS system and migrated all of its eight hospitals – including the prestigious brand new University College Hospital – to Carecast, a newly anglicised US system provided by IDX. Details of 1.5 million patients were successfully migrated as part of the move.

Kevin Jarrold, IT director at UCLH told E-Health Insider that after being confident existing data had successfully been migrated the trust switched to the new system at 6.00pm last Sunday. Within hours the first expectant mum had been entered on the system’s maternity module and first emergency patient on the A&E module.

Although UCLH signed a contract directly with IDX, the hospital has become the national development site and proving ground for Carecast, a system that BT is contracted to deliver to all trusts in London under the National Programme for IT. After IDX was dropped as the clinical application provider for the South of England last month, the successful go live of Carecast at UCLH was a vital step for the company.

Jim Crook, IDX’s chief executive, told E-Health Insider how important the successful implementation was after recent developments: "It legitimises Carecast as the World class deliverable it is for the NHS and London. It also enables us to progress with a more aggressive rollout plan with BT in London."

The migration to Carecast involved moving a patient master index with details of 1.5 million patients, records of over 150,000 outpatient appointments, and clinical modules for maternity, A+E, theatres, and commissioning. “The maternity system in particular holds a lot of clinical information on each pregnancy,” said Jarrold.

As well as ensuring patient information was successfully migrated the trust had to be confident that activity and commissioning data was faithfully transferred or risk serious potential financial problems. Before making the big switch the trust did a small trial implementation at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in March.

Under a £70m contract signed in September 2003 between IDX and UCLH in September 2003, the supplier was due to install its Lastword system last summer. After contract signing though IDX won a contract to deliver its newer Carecast system across London and it was decided to go for the newer system at UCLH.

The version of the system now in use is almost identical to the one that will be delivered to trusts across London, explained IDX’s boss. "We now have the first deliverable that meets the vigorous and excellent standards demanded by Connecting for Health."

Jarrold explained that the new PAS provides the foundations for delivering electronic tools that will directly support clinicians and improve patient care, including electronic patient records “The first step will be to start implement care planning over the next few months, this will be followed by electronic test ordering and results reporting, which we plan to introduce in the autumn.

"And by the end of the year we plan to introduce clinical notation which is when you start providing doctors with real benefits."

He told EHI that with its new PAS in place the trust could now start to integrate all the islands of information held on very specialised clinical systems in use across the trust. “We’ve got over a hundred stand-alone clinical systems people have developed over time. We will now start to bring them within Carecast.”