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encompass FAQs


  • What is an electronic health care record?

    An electronic health care record (EHCR), electronic patient record (EPR) or electronic health record (EHR) is a single, digital record for each person. This record records all the health and social care needs of a person for the whole of their life.

  • Why is encompass being implemented?

    encompass will digitise health and care records. By bringing together information from various existing systems that do not currently communicate effectively. The time needed to access information will be reduced, the need for heavy paper records will be eliminated, and the duplication of orders and information with be greatly reduced. Everything will be stored securely within encompass so only the people who need access to the information will be able to see it.

    You can read more about the benefits on the Encompass NI website.

  • Why did HSCNI choose Epic as a supplier?

    Epic is considered a global leader, currently providing electronic records for over 317 million people both within the UK and across the globe.

    HSCNI will use Epic’s expertise and work with Health and Social Care staff to build encompass. The contract award followed four years of planning and business case processes and a successfully completed competitive tender.

  • What are the benefits of one digital record?

    Having one person centred digital record means that information does not need to be stored in lots of different systems and written in paper records. It allows health care staff to see the right information at the right time. An EHCR allows health and social care staff to work smarter because they no longer need lots of paper forms. This lets them focus on our patients, clients, and services users.

    The new system will let patients, clients, service users and carers get more involved in looking after their own health and care. They can send and receive messages from their care teams.

  • Who is involved in the implementation of encompass?

    encompass is being implemented by regional and Trust based teams featuring staff from many different backgrounds including those with experience of health and care record implementations.

    The team has a wealth of expertise in health and social care, project management, technology, change management, administration, communications, legal, financial, and procurement fields.

  • Why hasn't this been done before now?

    Northern Ireland has always been at the forefront of using information technology for the best clinical care.

    We currently use a system called Northern Ireland Electronic Care Record (NIECR) which allows us to see patient information from a lot of different systems. But while it’s been a success, we still rely on paper to make notes and different systems to capture information. encompass will change the healthcare landscape across Northern Ireland please see answer 10 for more information.

  • Is our IT system very fair behind health services in other regions?

    Some of our systems are very old and they need to be replaced. The world’s best healthcare providers all have an electronic health record at their centre. We want the best for our population, and, in today’s world, that requires world-class systems based around patients and clinicians.

    While we have tried to keep up with these advances, we need new technology to help further development and put Northern Ireland on the right footing for the future. encompass is the solution. It will support efforts to transform the healthcare landscape in Northern Ireland.

  • When will it happen?

    Belfast Trust will go live on 06 June 2024.

    South Eastern Trust went live in November 2023. The remaining Trusts will follow with a phased implementation through 2024/25.

  • How will it change how I deal with the health service?

    The public will notice very little difference in how their care is delivered. Patients will have the opportunity to access elements of their care record through a region wide electronic patient portal.

    Through the portal, patients and service user will have the opportunity to play a more active role in their care.

    It will involve change for staff.  Having one record means that information does not need to be stored in lots of different systems. It allows health care staff to see the right information at the right time, all in one place. It will also mean that records will be accessible no matter which hospital a patient is being treated in.

  • How will it improve services?

    Patients and service users will benefit. An EHCR allows health, community and social care staff to work better because they no longer need lots of paper forms and information flows will be simplified. This lets them focus on helping the public.

    The new system will also let our patients, clients, service users and carers get involved in looking after their own health.  The public will – for example – be able to look at their appointments and pick up lab results via the My Care patient portal.

    During the implementation and bedding-in phases there may some disruption to Trust services – particularly outpatient and day case appointments – during the initial weeks of implementation as staff get used to accessing and inputting information onto the new system. We are asking the public to be patient and supportive of staff during this period.

  • As a patient can I opt out?

    The encompass system will replace paper case notes and records. In the same way as with paper case notes, there is a standard approach for record keeping which applies to all patients and service users of HSCNI.

    The purpose of using your information is to provide you and others with appropriate care and protection. In order for encompass to provide this service for you HSCNI will need to process some information about you and you cannot opt out of this processing or sharing your information in encompass.

    Find out more information about encompass information governance.

  • Who is managing my data?

    HSC has a legal, regulatory, corporate and ethical duty to protect and maintain the security and integrity of personal information for those we are responsible for. The data stored and processed within any HSC information system, including encompass, is subject to key legislation, regulations, policies and guidelines, which ensure a consistent and high standard of information security across HSCNI.

    The system will only be accessible over the HSC secure network, and patient data can be accessed only by the authorised staff who need to see it to support your care. We are working with leading technology companies who have implemented electronic patient systems globally to minimise risk and to safeguard the system.

    The encompass Programme has a robust system of governance in place with the customary programme management infrastructure in line with DHSCNI standards. Oversight is provided by the encompass Programme Board chaired by the SRO for the Programme Dr Dermot Hughes. This in turn reports to the Digital Health and Care NI Programme at the Department of Health.

  • How will patients access their data?

    Patients and service users will be able to access their health and social care records and track tasks essential to managing their care via a patient portal.

    The patient portal will be called My Care and targets conformance with WCAG 2.1 AA standards. This means it meets the current highest standards for making web content more accessible.

    My Care will be rolled out gradually on a Trust by Trust basis.

    My Care will allow the public to take more ownership of their individual health journey.

  • Are GPs included?

    General practice and Primary Care are currently not within the scope of the encompass programme.

    GP led teams will have access to encompass via EpicCare Link. EpicCare Link is an online read-only view of a person’s electronic health record. Primary Care and Non-Trust clinicians can view patient records, place referrals and radiology orders.

  • Is Social Care included in encompass?

    Trust-provided Social Care services are in the scope of encompass. All of the service-user’s records will be in one place and accessible via just a few clicks. Social workers will be freed up to spend more of their time in supporting and actually looking after the needs of people who are often at the most vulnerable times in their lives.

    Domiciliary Care service providers will continue to use their current systems to manage patient / service-user appointments and visits for the moment. However, care plans and service plans will be in encompass.

  • Will encompass provide centralised electronic data for patients from the implememtation date or will you be inputting existing paper-based records for patients?

    As part of the implementation, the team are working on moving key patient registration, clinical data and appointments from the legacy systems into Epic.

    However, this is a focused set of data and not all information will be transferred.

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