EMIS Web is expected to achieve “first of type” go-live in April, according to latest schedules from NHS Connecting for Health.

The much-awaited system from healthcare IT supplier EMIS was originally due to be approved in November. Then accreditation dates slipped to January, before the latest dates were published by CfH this month.

Sean Riddell, chief executive of EMIS, said the company was on track to have its first deployment of release 3.0 in April.

He told EHI Primary Care that there was “a lot of pent up demand” from GP practices for EMIS Web. He added: “Practices tell me they want it now and it is very nearly now.”

Riddell predicted the system would be rolled out to all its GP customers, covering 52% of UK GP practices, over a two to four year period.

He added: “We have got the capability to roll it out within two years but more realistically it will probably be a two to four year period.”

This week, EMIS announced its intention to float on the Stock Exchange’s alternative investment market.

Riddell said the move was good news for its end users and customers, which included the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales, CfH, and the Ministry of Defence as well as several other governments across the world.

He added: “In reality, we are moving from being a private company to a plc. There will be all the transparency and governance which comes with that, which has got to be a huge benefit to our customers and users.”

Riddell told EHI Primary Care that the IPO (initial public offering) was for 25% of EMIS’s issued share capital.

He added: “EMIS has always worked to have control of the healthcare agenda and EMIS are moving from what was historically just a GP system to a healthcare system and a consumer service.”

Riddell said any acquisitions would involve companies which fit with EMIS’s aspiration to deliver joined up healthcare. He added: “Acquisitions are just one of the options that we have got.”

CfH predicted that formal witness testing for EMIS Web would be completed in March “if all goes to plan”.

CfH accreditation procedures mean that following formal witness testing all systems must undergo “first of type go live” – usually for 45 days – before full roll-out approval.

Riddell said 1,700 users of EMIS LV and EMIS PCS, the company’s existing GP products, were already streaming data into EMIS Web.

He said that once full roll-out approval was achieved, managing the changeover for those practices would focus on change management and training, rather than data migration.

Release 3.0 of EMIS Web will include core GP functionality plus accreditation for Choose and Book, GP2GP and Release 2 of the Electronic Prescription Service.

Release 3.1, scheduled for first of type go live in June, will also include functionality for version 2 of the Summary Care Record plus bowel cancer screening and retinopathy screening.

CfH said EMIS planned to limit the delivery of new functionality in LV and PCS “ to encourage practices to migrate to EMIS Web when it becomes available.”

The current planned upgrade schedules for PCS and LV means both will be updated to take account of Quality and Outcomes Framework functionality as far as 2011-12 and the next release of LV will also include the new consent model for the SCR.

However, LV and PCS users will not get EPS R2 functionality and PCS users will not have SCR or GP2GP functionality either.

Riddell said EMIS and CfH had reserved the right to develop further functionality for PCS and LV dependent on the roll-out of EMIS Web.

CfH said that practices currently using an EMIS system did not need to complete a selection process when moving to EMIS Web under the terms of the GP Systems of Choice framework agreement.

However, the IT agency said that “subject to the costs associated with migration” a primary care trust may ask practices to develop a business case to justify a change of system.

CfH said EMIS was producing an information sheet for PCTs and GP practices including a description of the EMIS Web service, the activities involved in migrating to EMIS Web from EMIS LV, PCS or another GPSoC system, the implications for local IT infrastructure and the local costs associated with migration such as training.