Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has gone-live with an updated version of its unique patient administration system.

The refresh means the Pathways Patient Administration PAS will operate from a modern hardware platform with an up to date database and application software.

The trust hopes this will give it more scope for developments such as a web-based, real time bed management system.

Bill Fisher, head of IT told E-Health Insider: “We have a unique PAS; we are the only one in the world to have this; it was specially crafted us. Now we have a robust infrastructure with a modern [database] that allows us to really take control of it.”

The trust’s PAS is based on a McKesson product that was originally linked to a private finance initiative redevelopment of its main hospital in 2001.

As part of the deal, all the trust’s IT requirements were outsourced to McKesson, which was working on the PPA product.

PPA is different from the company’s Star and TotalCare offerings, because it uses an Oracle data repository with the actual application being written in the ‘Magic’ high level development language.

It communicates with third party applications via an Interface manager, using the HL7 messaging standard.

The deal was renegotiated in 2004, so that the trust took back responsibility for its IT – although it continued to work with McKesson and to use the company for support.

At the same time, the trust examined the options open to it through the National Programme for IT in the NHS and became an early adopter for NPfIT in the Eastern region.

The trust planned to deploy iSoft’s iPM, but although it reached the testing stages, Fisher said: “It was our judgement that the iSoft offering did not meet our requirements and, indeed, if deployed would significantly raise patient and business risk.”

After another re-engagement with the programme 18 months ago, the trust again decided that although significant progress had been made with iPM, there were still too many “unresolved issues to allow a deployment across the trust.”

Instead, it decided to develop the PPA PAS, of which it has full ownership since 2008. Fisher said: “Upgrading and having full responsibility for our own PAS means that we can set the medium term agenda and will not be held hostage to the NPfIT, whilst waiting for developments and solutions that we will have full confidence in deploying.”

He added: “We continue to closely monitor NPfIT developments and when we judge that their offerings are safe and reliable we shall engage again in the programme.”