City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust deployed Meditech version 6.0 in a “big bang go-live” last weekend.

The trust, which has been using the Magic version of the Meditech electronic patient record system since 1992, is now live with v6.0 across all trust sites.

Sunderland’s director of IT and information governance, Andrew Hart, told EHI that it made sense to deploy the whole system in one go.

“Because we already had the Magic version and we had a lot of functionality, it would have been impossible to implement this in phases. It was a big bang go-live across the trust,” he said.

The trust has deployed all the EPR functionalities in the new version of Meditech, including an A&E system, e-prescribing, pharmacy, electronic medical records, physician care management, patient care management, a reporting management module and a health information management module.

Sunderland was originally due to go live with the EPR late last year. However, EHI reported earlier this month that its March board papers revealed the go-live had been delayed, due to data problems.

“We had some issues around the data migration. It’s using a completely different technology,” explained Hart.

“Quite frankly the scale and enormity of it took us all by surprise. We needed to have full control of it and needed confidence around it before we went live, which is why the go-live was delayed."

Although the trust has undergone full system upgrades to the latest release approximately every two years, Hart said that this had been very different. “This hasn’t been a regular upgrade: it’s about building it from the grass roots up.”

The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust deployed Meditech v6.0 in June last year, but has faced several operational issues with the EPR.

The EPR software was “anglicised” as part of the Rotherham deployment, and Sunderland has been able to take advantage of this. Hart said Sunderland had not had any issues so far.

“Maybe that’s testament of the work they have already put in at the Rotherham,” he said.

“Because we’ve been a Meditech site for a number of years, I think that’s put us in a strong position. It’s 20 years of testing and building this to find out what we need and want from the system.”

Hart described the go-live as “very successful” and put this down to clinical engagement.

The trust had more than 250 people, including doctors, nurses and admin staff, involved in the deployment as well as 20 Meditech staff onsite during the go-live.

“The process of building the system isn’t just down to IT. We’ve gone for a multi-disciplinary approach,” he said.

“Clinical engagement has been absolutely crucial in making sure the system is successful. This weekend, those people supported the go-live and walked the floor, helping out and made sure people were logging on and using it.

“We’ve had to train 4,000 people on the system. It’s early days and there’s a degree of nervousness among staff, it’s been a tough weekend. It’s been very busy, but technically all well so far.”

Looking to the future, Hart is keen on making the trust fully paperless.

“Because we are pushing the benefits of using the system in real-time at the bedside and being a paperless organisation, what struck us was that we had to invest more in the infrastructure,” he said.

“We’ve replaced all the laptops and now have two laptops per bay. We’re also looking at buying tablets and letting senior clinical staff use their own in a bring your own device project, to have as much functionality and access to the system as possible,” he said.

“It’s down to affordability, but we want to use more elements of the system.”

Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust also recently announced it will implement Meditech v6.0.