Digital revolution for NI patient records

Date published: 03 October 2023

A new era for Northern Ireland’s health service will dawn on Thursday 9 November 2023 when the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust waves goodbye to paper patient records and launches the major new electronic patient record called encompass.

Digital revolution for NI patient records

This digital milestone will be the culmination of over seven years of work to improve how health and social care is delivered across Northern Ireland.

Implementing encompass will mean our health and social care records will be digitised and can be accessed at the touch of a button. This will mean consistent processes and data, an end to paper records, and an integrated system that puts people at the heart of services. Immediate access to information about our patients and clients for all health and care workers will make service delivery safer, more efficient and effective. Information from various existing IT systems that do not currently communicate effectively with each other will be brought together.

encompass will meet all information governance standards and will be rolled out to other Trusts on a phased basis over the next 18-24 months. The Belfast HSC Trust will follow the South Eastern HSC Trust and it will then be implemented in the Northern, Western and Southern HSC Trusts.

Chief Executive of the South Eastern Trust Roisin Coulter commented: “Our staff have been working tirelessly and training every day in order to implement encompass on November 9, when this digital innovation will Go-Live.

“At a later stage of the roll-out, everyone across Northern Ireland will be able to install an app on their mobile device called ‘MyCare’ where they will be able to access their own patient records. This will be revolutionary. 

“It will of course be a time of change and adjustment for our staff as they get used to the system, so we are asking the public to be patient during the first few weeks of Go- Live.

“There will inevitably be disruption to services in the initial period but every effort will be made to keep this to a minimum. The long-term gains for service delivery are immense.”

Dan West, Chief Digital Information Officer at the Department of Health and Head of Digital Health and Care Northern Ireland, said: “encompass is an important part of the transformation of our Health and Care sector. It is more than just an IT system – it is a clinical and operational change that will help our most precious resources, our staff, to deliver the best services they can to people in Northern Ireland.

“It simplifies things, allows care workers to see the right information at the right time, eliminates heavy paper records, and reduces duplication of tests. It makes managing medicines easier for our pharmacists, and provides better quality data for improvement of our services in the future.”

The HSCNI Senior Responsible Owner for encompass, Dr Dermot Hughes, said: “It will be an important milestone when we implement encompass at South Eastern HSC Trust. It will provide opportunities to improve care and how the public interact with care.

“The teams behind this programme come from all areas in the Health and Social Care Services. They have worked diligently to reach this stage despite the pandemic and service pressures. We are on the cusp of a new digital era in the Health and Care Service in NI which will transform how care is delivered and how care is experienced.”

encompass has been a concerted effort across the Health and Social Care system involving Trusts, the Department of Health and its Strategic Planning and Performance Group and the HSC’s Business Services Organisation. The long list of people and professions who have played a key role across the system include doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, allied health professionals, procurement teams, legal professionals, IT professionals, trainers and most importantly patients.

The Northern Ireland health and social care service has partnered with the global company Epic to build encompass, taking the best processes and software from the world’s leading hospital organisations, and tailoring it to the needs of Northern Ireland. Epic is a global leader, currently providing electronic records for over 300 million people both within UK and across the globe.

Notes to editors: 

  1. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email
  2. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt
  3. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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