Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) has launched a consultation into how the country’s healthcare system can be modernised and digitised.
According to the consultation document, “eHealth” is using information to help care professionals to make better decisions about prevention, treatment and care.
HSCB is proposing that a transformation of healthcare services in NI with the aim of better meeting the needs of the individual.
Technology will be a key pillar in redesigning services and possible future programmes may involve online appointment bookings and remote consultations with GPs and hospital specialists.
The Northern Ireland Electronic Care Record has also been introduced to improve professionals’ access to patient information in a bid to help safer and more effective working.
Meanwhile, a regional remote tele-monitoring service that enables people with long-term conditions to monitor themselves from home with access to advice as necessary is being developed.
“Northern Ireland’s health and social care system is facing major challenges that affect how it operates now and in the future,” claimed Jim Wells, NI Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.
“These challenges include caring for more people who are living longer and coping with limited increases in funding.
“To ensure our services work effectively we must keep working to change them,” he added.
Wells also claims that the public are asking for electronic and accessible services similar those they use in other parts of their lives.
“We are living in an age where data can be captured and sent from person to person at the touch of a button,” he claimed.
“The Internet and mobile phones are everyday ways of communicating and the public expect to use them to access our services.
“This gives us an opportunity to make our health and care system more responsive and better focused on the people it services,” the Minister added.
The eHealth consultation documents claims information provided by patients and caregivers, information held within systems already, information generated by self-monitoring devices and information needed for management and administration will all be used to improve healthcare.
People living in NI are set to receive their own Health and Care Number which HSCB claims will be used to maintain data quality.
An up-to-date “world class” electronic patient record, a regional X-ray system that allows electronic viewing and reporting, computerisation and two-way electronic communication for HP practices and major improvements to networks, data centres and other major eHealth infrastructure are also being planned.