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Encompass programme given approval to move forward

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A major HSC transformative initiative has moved a further step closer to implementation, after being given the go ahead by the Department of Health to proceed to procurement.

The encompass programme has been tasked with underpinning the digitally enabled transformation of Health and Social Care Northern Ireland (HSCNI) and in particular selecting a partner to work with to deliver and implement an Electronic Health and Care Record (EHCR) across Health and Social Care services throughout Northern Ireland.

The drive for transformation, as laid out in the Bengoa Report and ‘Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together’, comes at the same time as an urgent need for investment in modernising some of the key health and care information technology that underpins HSC services, such as the Patient Administration Systems (PAS). There are also opportunities to deliver benefits to patients and service users in terms of supporting safety and quality of care, such as  through the introduction of electronic prescribing in hospitals, and providing more convenient ways to interact with the service.

Currently the HSC uses lots of different IT systems that are old and are in urgent need of replacement and still relies on paper records and processes. Efforts to improve and modernise how we deliver services are held back by the lack of available data and the inability of administration processes to keep up with the new models of service delivery that health and care professionals, patients and service users are asking for.

With encompass, the new digital record will provide functionality – currently sitting in a variety of systems – from one system. It will allow health and social care teams to securely share information about their patients and service users. Patients will be able to manage their own appointments, view test results and communicate with those providing their care. Using the most up-to-date technology, information can be securely accessed, recorded and shared in ‘real-time’.

Gary Loughran, encompass Programme Director, said: “We regard encompass as the bedrock of transformation. It’s hard to imagine how we can seek to achieve the ambitions outlined by the Bengoa report without a digital platform on which to build new ways of working. This will be the system on which we will note all care, prescribe all medicines, order all tests and communicate with patients and service users. It will be the quiet partner of transformation helping people to deliver care seamlessly and without interruption.”

Department of Health’s Permanent Secretary, Richard Pengelly, 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.

“The engagement and support of staff and service users will be crucial in shaping its progress and its success.  Working as one system, we will need to pull together in an unprecedented way in order to deliver encompass, enabling us to improve health outcomes and create better experiences for those receiving, using and delivering services.”

As part of the procurement process the encompass team will select a supplier to help them develop the new system. It is anticipated that the procurement process will be completed by March 2019.

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