Northern Ireland announces £9m EPR rollout

Orion Health wins contract to provide single patient record platform for the whole country

Northern Ireland is a step closer to a national electronic patient care record (ECR) after a £9m contract was awarded to software supplier, Orion Health.

The announcement was made today by Health and Social Care Northern Ireland (HSCNI) and paves the way for a single portal covering a population of more than 1.8 million people and linking healthcare systems across acute, community, primary health and social care settings.

The contract follows a successful ‘Proof of Concept’ pilot of the Orion Health ECR at Ulster Hospital Dundonald, Belfast City Hospital, and two general practices. The project involved 200 clinicians and more than 9,000 patients and provided the business case for the full rollout of the ECR across the country. According to the results, 94% of users agreed it improved the quality of patient care, 83% of doctors reported a better clinical outcome as a result of using the record, 89% of users ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that the ECR improved patient safety, it proved 10 times faster at medication reconciliation for clinical pharmacists, and clinicians saved 53 minutes a day looking up patient data. There was also evidence of a reduction in the duplication of laboratory tests and diagnostic imaging.

Speaking today, Health Minister, Edwin Poots, said: “The implementation of the Electronic Care Record will contribute to the delivery of the key proposals within the Transforming Your Care strategy. It is about improving the quality, sustainability and safety of patient and client care. I am confident that the Electronic Care Record system will assist in developing a sustainable healthcare system that delivers now and will continue to deliver in the future for the good of everyone in Northern Ireland.”

I am confident that the Electronic Care Record system will assist in developing a sustainable healthcare system that delivers now and will continue to deliver in the future for the good of everyone in Northern Ireland

Commenting on the impact it will have on patient care and the work of clinicians, Dr Carolyn Harper, the HSCNI project sponsor, added: “The Electronic Care Record will improve the quality and safety of patient care as the system makes all of the relevant existing information available to doctors, nurses and other staff at the point of care. The Electronic Care Record received a very positive reaction from frontline staff as it delivered the patient benefits we had anticipated, and is intuitive to use. We learned valuable lessons from the pilot project and are looking forward to a smooth rollout across the country.”

As part of the ECR project, the Orion Health Clinical Portal will provide streamlined, secure, web-based access from a single browser view of patient information to authorised HSCNI health and social care professionals. The record will include critical patient information, including latest lab results, patient medications, allergies and clinical correspondence. Audit tools and patient privacy controls have been built in to help ensure patient confidentiality.

“As a busy clinician responsible for providing care for those who are acutely ill and also for those with chronic diseases like diabetes, I cannot understate the value of an Electronic Care Record,” said Dr Roy Harper, consultant endocrinologist at Ulster Hospital and a clinical champion for Northern Ireland’s Electronic Care Record Proof of Concept Project. “The ECR will play a key role in delivering a patient-centred service, ensuring that the right information is available to health professionals where and when it is needed.”

In addition to the clinical portal, HSCNI now has access to Orion Health’s Rhapsody Integration Engine, forms technology, patient portal and case management software that will help support the management of long-term conditions and provide the underpinning technology framework for sharing information across multi-disciplinary teams.

As a busy clinician responsible for providing care for those who are acutely ill and also for those with chronic diseases like diabetes, I cannot understate the value of an Electronic Care Record

“Being selected as the ECR provider for Northern Ireland is further validation that our solutions can address the needs of the HSCNI, and the wider NHS, in these challenging times,” said Colin Henderson, UK and Ireland manager at Orion Health. “HSCNI has a vision for more integrated healthcare to help manage patients across care settings, accessing and sharing information in a secure, role-based manner, and our technology portfolio enables this journey. The benefits document created after the Proof of Concept exercise shows many efficiencies were realised as a result of implementing this technology. Most importantly, there was very positive feedback from the clinical community which shows they like the solution and they felt it contributed to improving patient safety and outcomes.”

As part of a seven year contract, the ECR will be deployed in 18 acute and community hospitals, all GP practices, and community, mental health and social care services across the five regional trusts in Northern Ireland. The planned rollout will start in late 2012, with completion of the core elements anticipated in the early summer of 2013.

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