Northern Ireland launches digital healthcare strategy

A Northern Ireland-wide strategy to cut paper processes and exploit digital technologies in the NHS has been welcomed by the CSP.


The strategy sets measures to increase the use of digital technologies in health and care services

Tom Sullivan, the CSP’s public affairs and policy manager for Northern Ireland, said: ‘The development of initiatives such as the e-care record, the expansion of systems across the community sector and the development of the e-Northern Ireland single assessment tool should improve patient safety.

‘They should also increase clinician effectiveness and efficiency, and reduce training and support costs as staff move between employers using a common interface within their systems.’

His comments followed the publication of the Health and Social Care Board’s eHealth and Care Strategy on 2 March. This acknowledges that e-health services are limited and that the NHS does not make it easy for individuals to find information about their health and care.

The document sets out a range of measures intended to increase the use of digital technologies in health and care services from now until 2020.

A web portal, NIdirect, will be developed to provide advice and self-care information, as well as giving patients access to their health records. The use of mobile health apps will be encouraged, with the aim of supporting care and access to services.

Options allowing people to order prescriptions and make online appointments for physiotherapy and other NHS services will be developed.

The document includes examples of what this might mean in practice

  • Bronagh is a fit and healthy 30 year old who enjoys looking after her health. She recently bought a fitness tracker and now keeps an online record of her fitness activity and diet. At a recent visit to a physiotherapist for a minor sports injury, Bronagh shared her recorded data through a patient portal and the pair jointly made a decision about a new fitness plan.
  • Jean, 79, has osteoarthritis, diabetes, bronchitis and heart disease. She has been assessed several times by various professionals, including a physiotherapist. Jean was frustrated that she had to provide the same information whenever she was assessed. Using the Northern Ireland electronic care record, every professional looking after Jean can share information and coordinate her care. She needs fewer blood tests as recent results are available to everyone in the care team. If there’s a crisis, the out of hours or emergency department team has enough information to let them reach the best possible decisions about her care.

Number of subscribers: 0

Log in to comment and read comments that have been added