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Creation of single digital health record moves a step closer

A major health initiative to create a single digital health record for everyone in Northern Ireland has moved a step closer with the Department of Health’s announcement it has been given the go ahead to proceed to procurement.
Welcoming the announcement from the Department of Health’s Dr Michael McBride (back right) are encompass programme director, Gary Loughran (seated), Dr Michael Quinn, clinical director and programme manager, Bronagh Keatley.

A major healthcare initiative, which aims to create a single digital record for everyone in Northern Ireland, has moved a step closer to implementation.

Considered one of the largest investments in digital technology in Northern Ireland , rolled out over 10 years, the new system will allow healthcare professionals to access patient information on a range of handheld devices, wherever they are, safety and securely.

They will also be able to update records in ‘real time’, make notes electronically, prescribe medicines, order tests and communicate with patients and users.
People will be able to view their own information and communicate electronically with those who provide their care.

The anticipated cost of the contract is estimated at £90-£120million over a 10 year period. The approved outline business case includes a similar level of investment again to properly fund an effective implementation and roll out across Health and Social Care.

The encompass initiative – part of the HSC transformation programme – has been given the go-ahead by the Department of Health to proceed to procurement.  Today’s announcement means suppliers will now have the opportunity to bid for the contract to deliver and implement an electronic health and care record across health and social care services throughout Northern Ireland.

The system is expected to be rolled out in each health and social care Trust area, starting in late 2020, with the last Trust completed by 2025. Currently Northern Ireland’s health and social care system uses lots of IT systems that are old and need replaced. They also rely on paper records and processes. A new digital record will bring information – currently sitting in a variety of places – into one record.

The drive for transformation within the health system –  outlined in the Bengoa report and “Health and Wellbeing 2016: Delivering Together” – means there is now an opportunity to modernise some of the key health and care IT that underpin services, including patient information systems.

Referring to the encompass programme, Richard Pengelly, Permanent Secretary, Department of Health said: “The encompass programme offers us a unique opportunity to truly transform the way we care for people.  It will also empower and support colleagues across the service in both delivering care, and driving innovation and transformation.”

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, added: “The encompass programme is part of an ambitious plan to transform our health and social care system. We are fully committed to transforming healthcare services and encompass is a key part of this work.

“As the biggest investment in digital healthcare technology in Northern Ireland it demonstrates that, as the NHS marks its 70th birthday, the health and social care system in Northern Ireland is looking to the future.

Dr McBride said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to best use the necessary investment in information technology to support the changes that are essential to deliver the world class health and social care services our people deserve.”

Gary Loughran, encompass Programme Director, said encompass is the foundation on which transformation in HSC will be built.  “We regard this as the bedrock of transformation. This digital platform will help us build on new ways of working and achieve the ambition highlighted in recent health reviews. It will be the quiet partner of transformation helping people to deliver care seamlessly and without interruption.”

“We’ll use information and technology to deliver better outcomes for patients and those who use our services, and improve the efficiency in how we deliver that care.”

It is anticipated that the procurement process will be completed by March 2019.

More info at https://hscboard.hscni.net/encompass/