Epic Systems has been awarded £300 million by Northern Ireland’s Department of Healthcare to drastically change its health service through the creation of a single Digital Care Record for every citizen.
Healthcare in Northern Ireland, like in many Trusts, is still reliant on paper-based patient record systems. Under the new system known as Encompass, Northern Ireland’s healthcare services will transform all records into a single Digital Care Record that can follow patients through their healthcare journey.
After a lengthy four year planning process around the business case, and the completion of a competitive tender, Northern Ireland’s Department of Health has awarded the £300 million contract to US-based Epic Systems, a software firm focused on the provision of healthcare systems.
The system will also integrate electronic health and care records that are held in ‘aging’ Health and Social Care systems in community services, many of which are approaching ‘obsolescence.’
Health Minister Robin Swann commented: “Digital transformation will have a vital role in the rebuilding of health and social care in the wake of the first Covid-19 wave. For example, virtual clinics will increasingly be embedded in the provision of care. That innovation has been fast tracked as a result of Coronavirus. It is here to stay. Further digital innovation will revolutionise services and Encompass is a major step in that direction.”
Moving forward Epic Systems will work with the health department, frontline staff and operational management teams to transition existing record work flows and services from paper to digital.
Digital Care Record
The establishment of a single Digital Care Record is part of a planned 10 year redevelopment of Northern Ireland’s Healthcare services and a wider £300 million investment in information communication technology across the healthcare department.
The Encompass project is expected to reduce waiting times and improve the health services ability to mitigate and treat mental health to a greater extend by increasing ease of access to patient record across services.
The first service to go live with the Encompass system will be the South Eastern Trust in 2022, with all Trusts expected to be able to use the system by 2024.
Health Minister Robin Swann stated that: “We are calling time on the current situation of multiple, ageing digital systems and a large reliance on the paper record. This investment will improve outcomes for our patients and service users by making it easier for our HSC professionals to deliver sustainable, high quality care, improved efficiencies and greater collaboration across all care settings.”