Information portability in large, complex organisations

Iliada Eleftheriou, PhD student 

Project Overview

  • Large scale organisations collect huge amounts of data everyday. However, data are only useful when they can be interpreted and analysed, providing us with knowledge in a specific context.
  • Information portability explores the ability to exchange and use information across different contexts; from where it originates to where it is needed. Organisations can benefit hugely from information portability since knowledge gained by a specific set of data of a particular context can now be shared and applied across the organisation.
  • The organisation studied in this project is the NHS, a large complex organisation involving millions of people and data.
  • Transferring data across contexts and extracting knowledge, require effort and resources, often more than the benefits gained.
  • This project develops a methodology to identify the boundaries that can affect the portability of information aiming to predict the costs of a potential movement of information. By identifying the costs, the methodology can assist in better decision making on data integration and sharing among organisations in the NHS avoiding unnecessary costs and resources.

Start: September 2013

End: September 2017

Funded by: EPSRC

Data Source

  • Using a collection of 19 real world case studies from the NHS domain. The case studies are written by NHS staff taking the Informatics for Healthcare Systems professional development course at The University of Manchester.
  • The case studies describe recent IT developments in the NHS covering a variety of services from numerous trusts in the UK. Services include cancer care, ambulance service management, inpatient management, heart failure, diabetes care, lung cancer, bed management and more.
  • The case studies describe challenges, success and failing factors of new information systems recently introduced in the respective foundation trusts.


  • Semi-structured interviews conducted with clinicians working at the radiology department of the Bolton Foundation Trust.
  • From the interviews domain knowledge was gathered, like organisational structures, available information systems and the business processes of taking an x-ray and creating a report, needed to create our methodology.

Benefits and Outcomes

The research can potentially help managers and stakeholders of the NHS and other large organisations to make better informed decisions on the risks and costs of developing an information sharing or integration solution.

A model, called LOAD, is currently being developed which identifies boundaries on four dimensions of data movement; data, actors, organisations, and landscapes.

Researchers Involved

Suzanne M. Embury

Andrew Bass