NI electronic medical record system expanded to include eye care

  • The Northern Ireland Electronic Care Record system has been expanded to cover eye care data for local patients, with plans for a full patient portal and more in the future

    In today's increasingly online age, traditional businesses and organisations across a wide range of sectors are now undergoing extensive digital transformation. Orion Health has been tackling the tough task of transforming aspects of Northern Ireland health care records with a new electronic system that will help tie together the different aspects of patient health into one central source.

    The next phase in the Northern Ireland Electronic Care Record (NIECR) system's development has just been released, this time focusing on eye care. Community optometrists are now be able to access aspects of a patient’s electronic care record relevant to their field for the first time, including prescribed medications the patient is on that could have side-effects relevant to eye health. Over 60% of optometry contractor practices across Northern Ireland now have access to the system.

    Orion's approach of getting patient data in one place and providing relevant data to different healthcare providers will avoid mistakes being made with patient records and help healthcare professionals spot issues such as medications that cross-react. Optometrists will also be able to use the system to organise referrals directly to save GP time, and the system has been designed with two-factor authentication and privacy controls.

    The platform now covers the areas of diabetes and eye care, and there are big plans for the future. The next steps are to link the system in with the macular service, provide access to the diabetes screening report from the Northern Ireland Diabetic Eye Screening Programme (NI DESP), and develop a care pathway for cataracts. Plans are also in place to roll the system out to other user cohorts such as dentists and medical students across Northern Ireland.

    Margaret McMullan, Optometric Clinical Adviser at the Health and Social Care Board gave a key example of how the NIECR system is already making a difference: "An elderly patient informed a locum that they had decided to stop taking their prescribed eye drops. On examination it was found that their eye pressure was extremely high and through the NIECR the locum was very quickly able to find out the name of the eye drops and inform the patient’s GP and family. Previously this would have been a lengthy process and thereby risked damage to the patient’s eyes and a potential loss of sight."

    The ultimate goal for OrionHealth is to produce a patient portal that will let patients access their own medical records directly, book and manage appointments digitally, and more. “This expansion to include optometrists takes the NIECR further into the community and demonstrates what can be achieved when a project team thinks outside the box,” commented Nick Willox, sales director for Orion Health.

    Source: Written based on press release

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