New patient portal a first for healthcare in Northern Ireland

Orion Health launches Pathfinder Project to deliver patient portal for people with dementia

The new patient portal is part of a Pathfinder Project

Orion Health is continuing its collaboration with Health & Social Care NI (HSCNI), building on ongoing work to deliver the Northern Ireland Electronic Care Record system.

This new phase of work is a transformational Pathfinder Project that will deliver a patient portal with an initial focus on people living with dementia.

The project, due to go live in August 2018, with an initial pilot of up to 100 people living with dementia, will establish the Proof of Concept which, once successfully proven, will see the opportunity for a ground-breaking patient portal to be rolled out across Northern Ireland.

HSCNI is committed to giving citizens access to digital information that will enable them to take better ownership of their own health, manage their conditions effectively, and engage with health care professionals.

The patient portal will empower patients to do this by providing the right information, at the right time, and in the right manner, using the latest web-based technology.

Building upon the already-successful Northern Ireland Electronic Care Record platform, the patient portal will help to put patients at the centre of care, encourage greater self-care, and help in the co-ordination of service delivery

“We are delighted to be working on the patient portal pathfinder project which builds on our continued work to deliver and develop the Northern Ireland Electronic Care Record system,” said Gary Birks, general manager for UK & Ireland at Orion Health.

“The Patient Portal will build on this ground-breaking information platform and will see the Pathfinder Project deliver real benefits in the care provided to people living with dementia and their carers while improving efficiencies for the health service.”

Building the patient portal is not without its challenges, as many people living with dementia require access to a wide range of specialist health services rather than simply requiring treatment for their dementia.

The existence of a multitude of legacy systems across HSCNI, in both hospital and community settings, with multiple data entry points, and the risk of data inaccuracy further compounds the complexity of addressing user needs.

The Pathfinder Project will focus on dementia care in the first instance in order to better understand user requirements in such a complex and diverse area of healthcare.

The iterative approach being adopted to the development of the patient portal will help to establish important protocols, such as how to deliver laboratory results to patients, which can then be replicated if the patient portal is rolled out more widely across health and social care.

When the Patient Portal launches in August it will provide people living with dementia with four initial areas of functionality:

  • Appointments: Will enable hospital appointments to be viewed online which can be shared with other carers within a patient’s circle of care. This functionality will be especially important for people living with dementia who may at times be confused or forget about hospital appointments
  • Shared Files: The shared files screen will allow clinicians, patients and their nominated care representatives to share files, such as documents, images and videos with one another within a patient’s care record
  • Health Library: Will provide clinicians with the ability to publish standard medical documentation, photos and videos into the patient portal. Clinicians then grant access to the relevant library content that is tailored specifically to the patient’s condition and care requirements. This provides the patient and their circle of care with access to highly-relevant information that is reliable and trusted
  • Circle of Care: One of the most-innovative aspects of the patient portal will be the potential to identify a patient’s circle of care. This will allow nominated representatives, such as family members or other carers to have secure access to relevant information about the patient’s condition and the management of that condition

Further functionality, to be rolled out during the course of the pathfinder, will include records of medication prescribed, treatment received, viewing of authorised clinical documents, and access to laboratory results and goal setting.

The patient portal marks an important milestone for the health service in Northern Ireland and this pathfinder project will allow specific protocols to be established with the aim of enabling much-better communication between patients, their carers and clinicians

Goal setting will allow patients to record and track information against specific behaviours suggested by clinicians in the patient portal. This will bring real health benefits for dementia sufferers in areas such as socialisation activities and memory tests.

Further consideration is also to be given to introducing patient and client questionnaires and messaging.

“The patient portal marks an important milestone for the health service in Northern Ireland and this pathfinder project will allow specific protocols to be established with the aim of enabling much-better communication between patients, their carers and clinicians,” said Eddie Ritson, programme sirector at the Centre for Connected Health and Social Care.

“Building upon the already-successful Northern Ireland Electronic Care Record platform, the patient portal will help to put patients at the centre of care, encourage greater self-care, and help in the co-ordination of service delivery.”