Health and Social Care Northern Ireland has announced that it will deploy a £9m nationwide electronic care record, which will be supplied by Orion Health.

The seven year contract will see a portal-based ECR deployed in 18 acute and community hospitals, all GP practices, and community, mental health and social care services across all five regional trusts.

Health minister Edwin Poots said the implementation of the ECR will contribute to the delivery of the key proposals in ‘Transforming Your Care – a new model for health and social care in Northern Ireland’ launched in December 2011.

“It is about improving the quality, sustainability and safety of patient and client care.

"I am confident that the ECR 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,” he explained.

The contract follows a successful ‘proof of concept’ pilot of the Orion Health ECR involving 200 clinicians and more than 9,000 patients at the Ulster Hospital Dundonald, the Belfast City Hospital, and two general practices in 2009 and 2010.

The Orion Health clinical portal will provide clinicians and healthcare professionals with patient information, which has been shared and taken from multiple existing systems across acute, community, primary health and social care.

The single browser view will provide secure, web-based access to information such as a patient’s latest lab results, medication, allergies and clinical correspondence.

The model of care, which was unveiled at the end of an independent review chaired by John Compton, chief executive of the Health and Social Care Board, aimed to put the individual “at the centre” of care, with technology described as “a key enabler of the delivery of the new model of care.”

“The ECR 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 ECR 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.”

The planned roll-out will start in late 2012 with completion of the main elements of the project anticipated in summer 2013.