NI deploys Electronic Care Records for population of 1.8m

29 May 2012

Northern Ireland has taken a worldwide lead in the deployment of Electronic Care Record (ECR) technology. ECR will enable communication and sharing of patient data across acute, community, primary health and social care.

Health and Social Care Northern Ireland (HSCNI) has signed a deal with global e-health software provider Orion Software to deploy the ECR system.
The contract follows a successful ‘Proof of Concept’ pilot of the Orion Health ECR in Ulster Hospital Dundonald, the Belfast City Hospital and 2 general practices in 2009 and 2010.

This involved 200 clinicians and more than 9000 patients and provided the business case for the full roll out of the ECR across the HSC.

It also demonstrated that the solution could reduce the length of clinic times, improve the quality and safety of patient services and achieve cost and efficiency savings in staff time and resources.

“The implementation of the Electronic Care Record will contribute to the delivery of the key proposals within ‘Transforming Your Care’,” Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots said.

“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 health care system that delivers now and will continue to deliver in the future for the good of everyone in Northern Ireland.”

Secure data

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 ECR will include critical patient information, including latest lab results, patient medications, allergies and clinical correspondence.  Audit tools and patient privacy controls have been built into the ECR to help ensure patient confidentiality.

“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,” said Dr Carolyn Harper, the HSCNI project sponsor.

“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 roll out across the country,” Dr Harper added.

Image of medical technology via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years