Several new systems and services have been delivered since 2005, several systems and services are at implementation stage and others are planned over the next few years. The following is a summary of some of these new systems and services

ICT programme - work programme

The implementation of the Information and Communications Technology Strategy is bringing modern computer systems into the HSC to improve patient care and services.

Health + Care Number index

The Health + Care Number index provides a unique number for everyone using HSC services in Northern Ireland.

This index is electronically linked to all of the major HSC ICT systems.

Comprehensive use of this unique identifier is fundamental to creating service wide electronic care records as this number is the main link between records held on different ICT systems.

NIPACS – Northern Ireland Picture Archiving and Communications System

NIPACS enables images such as X-rays and scans to be stored electronically and viewed on video screens, so that doctors and other health professionals can access the information and compare it with previous images at the touch of a button.

NIPACS technology allows for a near filmless process, with all of the flexibility of digital systems.

It takes away the need to distribute images manually; images can be viewed at one, or across several, HSC locations, enabling clinicians and care teams working together to view common information and so speeding up diagnosis.

NIPACS also removes all the costs associated with hard film and releases valuable space currently used for storage.

Most importantly, however, NIPACS has the potential to transform patients’ experience of the care they receive across the HSC.

Emergency Care Summary

This system is giving GP Out-of-Hours Centres and A&E departments access to information about patient medications and allergies.

This information is extracted from the patient’s GP records system and is used at the point of care.

Previously doctors did not have access to this information and had to rely on the patient’s recollection of his/her medication. 

Electronic Care Records (ECR)

Electronic Care Records are central to HSC reform and will transform the way that health and social care is managed.

This service will provide an individual electronic care record for every patient in NI.

It will give authorised health and care professionals access to service user information where and when it is needed.

A very successful proof of concept pilot was conducted during 2010. By the end of the pilot, more than 200 clinical staff in the Ulster and Belfast City hospitals were using the system.

This system will subsume the functionality provided by the Emergency Care Summary.

Bowel cancer screening

The Bowel Screening Information Management System crown copyright software developed by Health Solutions Wales, was implemented in Northern Ireland in April 2010 to support the functions of the Call/Recall centre, bowel screening laboratory, pre-assessment in selected endoscopy units and the recording of management outcomes for screening participants.

The call/recall centre is based in the BSO, Franklin Street, Belfast, linked to the existing Cervical Screening Centre and also provides a helpline facility to the programme.

Cancer Patient Pathways System (Capps)

Capps is a regional cancer care information system to monitor cancer waiting times and assure the timeliness of access to diagnosis and treatment services for cancer patients in accordance with the access standards.

Capps is used routinely at Cancer multidisciplinary team meetings to assist in rapid decision on the patient’s care and treatment plan.

Capps was developed with very significant input from the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry.

Medicines Management Technology project

This system was implemented in 2011 to support the Medicines Management initiatives being introduced across the HSC and prepare for the introduction of electronic prescribing.

This project has modernised the hospital pharmacy ICT systems so they can support the necessary interfaces and functionality and a set of robotics systems for the larger pharmacies in the HSC.

Theatre Management System

The Theatre Management System has been implemented in all operating theatres in NI with the exception of theatres in Musgrave Park and the Royal Victoria hospitals.

The core system has been in place for some time and provides functionality to manage theatres and schedule theatre sessions.

Other modules, which add significant value, such as Stock Control, Surgeon’s Assistant and CSSD are at implementation stage and will be implemented during 2011.

Regional Data Warehouse

The regional Data Warehouse is an important service provided by the HSC Business Services Organisation, that will protect the confidentiality of patients and will provide timely, pseudonymised patient-based data and information for purposes other than direct clinical care, including:

  • planning and commissioning
  • public health and research
  • clinical audit and governance
  • benchmarking
  • performance improvement

Data is routinely extracted from operational systems across the HSC and loaded into the data warehouse.

The data warehouse is used by staff at Trust, HSCB and DoH levels. Access to the data is strictly controlled and where necessary the data is anonymised or pseudonymised.

Each 'type' of user has access to only the data that he/she is permitted to have access to.


All GP practices in Northern Ireland are now connected to the secure HSC data network.

This network allows diagnostic test results (Radiology and Pathology) to be transferred electronically from Trust based diagnostic departments directly to the GP practice patient record system.

All GP practices now have access to secure e-mail and have access to the internet.

Electronic referrals system

This system will provide the technology for referrals from Primary Care to Secondary Care to be made electronically.

Initially this service will be only available for GP referrals to consultant led services in acute hospitals although the technology will support referrals from any service to any other service.

The system uses Crown Copyright software developed by NHS Scotland where it is used to support the vast majority GP referrals.

As well as speeding up the time that it takes for a referral to get from the GP practice to the hospital, the system will allow the introduction of structured referral protocols, ensuring that the referrer provides the required dataset to support the referral. Implementation will begin early in 2011.

The Payment Calculation and Analysis System (PCAS)

This system is similar to the English QMAS system.

It is a single, NI wide IT system, which gives GP practices and the HSCB objective evidence and feedback on the quality of care delivered to patients.

The system shows how well each practice is doing, measured against national achievement targets detailed in the General Medical Services (GMS) contract, which sets out the way GPs work and the way they are financially rewarded.

As GP practices are rewarded financially according to the quality of care they provide, it is essential that the payment rules that underpin the GMS contract are implemented consistently across all systems and all practices in the UK. PCAS ensures that this is achieved.

PCAS allows GP practices to analyse the data they collect about the number of services and the quality of care they deliver, such as maternity services or chronic disease management clinics.

This provides a positive incentive for GPs to treat patients in the community rather than referring them to hospital for treatment such as diagnosis or minor operations.

The above summaries were prepared at a point in time.

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