The delays in implementation of the Cerner Millenium patient administration system have helped to make the system ‘fit for purpose and more robust’, according to the IT lead at Winchester and Eastleigh NHS Trust.

The Mid Hampshire Deployment Family, consisting of three trusts: Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust, part of Hampshire Partnership Trust and a part of Hampshire Primary Care Trust, went live with Millenium Release 0 over the weekend of 10-11 February.

The go-live was not without teething problems with 300 calls a day to the helpdesk in the first week, together with initial reporting and printing issues. The trust says these have now been resolved.

The Cerner Millennium Release 0 system, also know as the ‘foundation release’, included a new Patient Administration System (PAS), a new computer system for A&E, part of the maternity department and parts of the theatre department. Blood and Radiology tests are also now being ordered electronically.

Local Service Provider, Fujitsu told the Commons Public Accounts Committee last summer that the Winchester deployment would occur on 25 September, however the trust told E-Health Insider: “The Deployment Family made the decision to re-plan their go-live date following lessons from previous R0 go-lives in 2006. In particular the issues with the software around reporting.”

Winchester’s managing director for clinical support services and asset management, Peter Knight told E-Health Insider: “The delays have been very helpful, it helps us get to grips with the systems in depth, especially in terms of planning and training.”

Knight added: “There have been minor nuances we have had to deal with, but extensive testing reduced the risk. We expected to find all of these on day one, two and three, and of the issues we have found, we worked with Cerner and the problems that have arisen have been fixed rapidly.”

He admitted that the trust was cautious before deploying the system but said that through close working with Fujitsu they ensured that they received the system they wanted, with the functionality they needed.

Knight explained to EHI that the trust chose a Saturday to deploy the system to minimise disruption for staff and patients. He said that staff have since been fully trained onto the system and issues that have arisen, including reporting issues and printer sharing faults, were reported to Fujitsu and Cerner straight away and swiftly dealt with.

Crucially, he says the new PAS will be able to produce the necessary statutory reports required by the DH and are able to audit their data more easily. Knight says that the concerns the trust had raised with Cerner have been fixed and that in his view the system is fit for purpose for deployment in other trusts.

“With Cerner on side, any trust can take up the Millennium system and have a smooth go-live with a fit and robust system. Issues are dealt with quickly and staff are able to get used to the system quickly,” Knight told EHI.

To support the go-live, Winchester implemented IT business management software from Touchpaper. It included a ServiceDesk solution that provided integration with Fujitsu’s central service desk providing automated communication of service requests, delivery of accurate, real-time information on the status of requests and removing any delays in the LSP receiving requests.

Knight said that the software had helped to ease frustrations amongst staff. In the first week from go-live, the desk received 300 calls a day, but that has since gone down to less than 100 per day – many of which are to do with security such as forgotten passwords.

He acknowledges that without their patience, the deployment would not have worked and called the staff on the ground “amazing” for their tolerance.

Administration staff saw the benefits of the new PAS straight, says Knight. Once the system was live, outpatient staff noticed how they were able to get through the volumes of patients coming in with split queues to register people in faster.

In September, the trust also installed JAC’s Electronic Prescribing and Medication Administration system combined with their JAC Pharmacy Management module to provide a fully integrated medication management solution.

Knight told EHI that the JAC system now managed the entire cycle of medication management for the trust, and so work was carried out to ensure it interfaced with the new PAS. Initially, the system had problems making patients visible to staff, but Cerner worked with the trust to ensure this functionality was corrected.

Overall, Knight feels that deployment and use of the medication management system “went as well as we could have hoped” after a year of upfront and support planning.

He said: “What’s interesting is comparing the go-live of our old system, which took a year, this go-live has actually only taken a month.”

Offering advice to other trust preparing to go-live Knight says: “Make sure you vigorously go through sign-off and training, plan go-lives strategically so that they meet your criteria. You should also get clinical engagement because without it, it is difficult to keep staff enthused. You should also plan a support mechanism as well and work with your LSP as a solid team. Finally, the trust needs ownership, and should put its money where its mouth is.”

Winchester has now been named by other trusts as the pilot site for order comms going live with Millenium R0.

Cerner told investors last month that through Fujitsu it had now deployed Millennium to 20% of trusts in the South of England.