The Encompass Programme

7th December 2018

The Encompass Programme

The encompass programme is a major healthcare transformation initiative, which aims to create a single digital health and social care record for everyone in Northern Ireland and will benefit both patients and staff. In our blog this week Gary Loughran, Director of the encompass programme, tells us what it all means…

Here in Northern Ireland our health and social care services currently use a lot of different systems to store your medical and social care records.  Many of these systems are old and cannot easily, or just can’t, communicate with each other.  This gives us an opportunity. Instead of continuing to rely on paper records and replacing outdated technology system by system, we can better use the investment needed in healthcare technology to transform the way we care for people in Northern Ireland.

In many countries outside of Northern Ireland, health and care organisations are using digital technology to transform their services. The digital revolution has transformed other sectors, such as how we shop, how we travel and how we bank: health and social care is now catching up.

The encompass programme is an HSC-wide initiative which will introduce a digital integrated care record to Northern Ireland. This will support the HSCNI vision to transform and modernise our health and social care services in order to improve health outcomes and create better experiences for those receiving, using and delivering services.

This means that everyone involved in your care will have secure access to your health and care information from one central record, as and when they need it.  This will include care plans, test results, medication records, communication and mobility needs and appointments – all needed to ensure you get the best care.

Transformation is necessarily uncertain and dynamic, it requires an open-minded approach and is different; this takes us, me included, out of our comfort zones and challenges us to think broader and to see further.  For the HSC that creates both an excitement and nervousness, and it is correct that it does so.

For the public this transformation will also change the communication dynamic, with our aim to give the person most involved in their care, more responsibility for arranging, organising and becoming more care-full.

We will do this by allowing you safe, controlled access to your own information and enable you to use the system to communicate with your health and social care team, view test results and manage your appointments.

It means that health and care staff won’t have to enter the same data on different systems and in paper records and forms and can make better use of their time. It means that we can provide guidance and support for decision making at the point of care, helping to ensure that we can provide people with the highest standards of care, equitably, across Northern Ireland.

Led by professionals from across HSC in Northern Ireland who have a wealth of experience in leading the delivery of digitally enabled transformation within and across health and social care services, the encompass team are working closely with service users, carers, clinicians and other HSC professionals to ensure this new digital solution is fit for purpose and works well for all those who will be using it.

Some readers (hopefully lots) will already be familiar with the encompass programme and its aims.  In November 2018 around 300 frontline staff took part in ‘supplier week’ – a week where we, as a health and social care system, evaluated suppliers’ solutions against real-life scenarios. This included around 30 service users who were involved in evaluating the patient portals.

Perhaps, you are already engaged in encompass or participate in one the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) groups within HSCNI?

If not, and in any event, we would encourage everyone to get involved and stay involved in encompass, we won’t know all the answers but we know transformation is essential and your involvement will help us to get this right.

We expect to start rolling out the new system on a Trust by Trust basis, starting in late 2020.

If you’re interested in keeping up-to-date with the developments and conversations around the encompass programme, follow me on Twitter @garyfloughran and our hashtag #encompassNI.

Check out our video to give you a flavour of the benefits of encompass:

HSC Encompass animation from HSC Board on Vimeo.

What do you think of the encompass programme?  Had you heard of it before?  Will you find it useful to be able to access your records online?  Share your views in the comments section below!