Northern Ireland has launched the country’s first electronic care record system.

Health and Social Care Northern Ireland signed a £9m, seven year contact with Orion Health in May 2012 for a portal-based ECR.

It has since been building the infrastructure ready for the full deployment of the portal which was originally planned for April.

Health Minister Edwin Poots spoke at the launch event today saying the new system gives clinicians a window into all the important health and care information that they need to provide the best care for a patient.

“They will be able to look at information currently held in a multitude of different systems across the Northern Ireland health and social care sector, to see details of past or ongoing diagnoses and investigations or treatments,” he said.

“This will enable better, safer, faster care and treatment for everyone whose care team uses the system.”

The web-based portal gives a single view of data pulled from multiple information systems across acute, community, primary health and social care.

Its national roll-out follows a successful ‘proof on concept’ pilot of the portal at the Ulster Hospital Dundonald, the Belfast City Hospital, and two general practices in 2009 and 2010.

Consultant endocrinologist at the Ulster Hospital Dr. Roy Harper said he had been using the proof of concept system for more than three years and it had transformed how the hospital run its clinics and wards.

“The ECR makes our job of providing the best care we can to patients so much easier,” he said.

The target is for the portal to have 20,000 users.

Poots said it had undergone rigorous testing to ensure confidential data is kept secure and that only authorised staff can access it to support patient care.

Colin Henderson, the UK and Ireland managing director of Orion Health, said: “The HSC ICT strategy is not a future ambitions document – integrated care is here.”