Northern Ireland electronic care record system is launched

Health Minister, Edwin Poots, unveils Orion Health ECR solution that will revolutionise joined-up care

Northern Ireland Health Minister, Edwin Poots, led the speeches at the launch of Northern Ireland’s first Electronic Care Record (NIECR) system.

The launch comes a year after a contract was signed with e-Health software provider, Orion Health, to operate the solution.

Poots said: “The NIECR gives our doctors and nurses a window into all the important health and care information that they need to provide the best care for a patient. They will be able to look at information currently held in a multitude of different systems across the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care (HSC) sector, to see details of past or ongoing diagnoses and investigations or treatments. This will enable better, safer, faster care and treatment for everyone whose care team uses the system.”

People have told us they cannot understand why the right information is not available to those making decisions about their care, in the right place at the right time

The web-based portal system will enable the communication and sharing of patient data taken from multiple existing information systems across acute, community, primary health and social care. As part of the preparations, a public information campaign has been undertaken, which included a leaflet being sent to every Northern Ireland household introducing and explaining the system.

Poots said: “Confidentiality and data security remain a key priority across the HSC and the NIECR has undergone rigorous testing and can only be accessed over the secure health and social care network by authorised staff who need to see it to support patient care.

“This is a new and innovative way of doing things, and an example of how cutting-edge technology, clinical leadership and a collaborative approach can transform information into better care for patients.”

Commenting on Thursday’s launch, Colin Henderson, UK and Ireland managing director at Orion Health, added: “The HSC ICT strategy is not a future ambitions document – integrated care is here. The response from clinicians and patient groups to the Orion Health Clinical Portal ECR has been overwhelmingly positive. I've had several clinicians tell me that it has revolutionised the way they work. The NIECR will contribute significantly to improving patient safety and outcomes.”

Dr Roy Harper, a consultant endocrinologist at the South Eastern Trust, has been using a proof-of-concept system for three years and said: “It has transformed how we run our clinics and wards. The ECR makes our job of providing the best care we can to patients so much easier.”

This is a new and innovative way of doing things, and an example of how cutting-edge technology, clinical leadership and a collaborative approach can transform information into better care for patients

And Maeve Hully, chief executive of the Patient and Client Council, added: "People have told us they cannot understand why the right information is not available to those making decisions about their care, in the right place at the right time. The Patient and Client Council welcome this sensible development, which reflects what people want and expect. It will avoid the need for people to tell their story many times to healthcare staff.”

Following a successful proof-of-concept pilot involving the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, the Belfast City Hospital and local general practices, a contract was signed in May 2012 with Orion Health to deliver the portal and integration technology behind the NIECR, with an approximate value of £9m over the next seven years.

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