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Northern Ireland to deploy patient portal

Health and Social Care Northern Ireland will begin piloting a patient portal later this month to support people with dementia

Health and Social Care Northern Ireland (HSCNI) is launching a patient portal from Orion Health, focusing on people with dementia in the first instance.  

A pilot with up to 100 people will launch this month, and will work as a proof of concept, or pathfinder project, for HSCNI, before it rolls out the portal further.

Initially focused on people living with dementia, the pilot aims to gain an understanding of user requirements around the complexities of care needed for dementia patients.

Northern Ireland already has an electronic care record platform, also from Orion Health, which the patient portal will be part of.  

Eddie Ritson, programme director for HSCNI’s Centre for Connected Health and Social Care, said the patient portal would help “put patients at the centre of care, encourage greater self-care and help in the coordination of service delivery”.

“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,” he said.

There are also issues with legacy systems across Northern Ireland, both in the community and hospitals, resulting in several data entry points and the associated risk of poor data quality and inaccuracy. 

HSCNI hopes the patient portal will help establish protocols on dementia care and how to deliver results to patients.  

During the initial launch, the portal will include a “circle of care” where nominated representatives, such as family members or carers, can get secure access to information about a patient’s condition and how to manage it. Hospital appointments will also be shared with the circle.

Other functionality for the dementia patients trialling the portal includes shared files, which will allow clinicians, the patients and their carers to share documents, images and videos with each other, as well as a health library where clinicians can add documentation and share information specific to the patient.  

Over time, the patient portal will also hold medication and treatment records, and patients and their carers will be able to track clinical documents and lab results. There will also be a function called “goal setting” for patients to record and track their own information against a set of measures suggested by the clinician.  

HSCNI is also considering adding messaging functionality to the portal.

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