Policy Forum for Northern Ireland

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Next steps for digital health, and innovation in health and social care in NI - Encompass programme | Digital Health Strategy | data use | priorities for Trusts | regulation | EU and UK market positioning

October 2023

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

This conference looked at the future delivery of digital health in NI, and priorities for innovation in health and social care.

Delegates examined plans for taking forward the Department of Health’s Digital Strategy, as well as the wider development of healthcare innovation in Northern Ireland.

It was an opportunity to discuss key issues for the introduction of the Encompass electronic patient record system, going live on in November at the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust with other trusts to follow suit in 2024/2025, which will create a single digital care record for every citizen in Northern Ireland.

Those attending assessed priorities for managing the transition to a digital records system and for the role of Trusts, HSC staff, and the wider sector in the shift to a digital system.

It was also an opportunity to discuss the wider life sciences and health vision in Northern Ireland.

Policymakers and stakeholders discussed priorities for the development of new innovative solutions for addressing key health and social care challenges, and investment and funding opportunities.

They also looked at strategic options for creating a more joined up innovation ecosystem between research, development and delivery within HSC to better capitalise on Northern Ireland’s potential in the sector. It followed the independent NICON Health and Wealth in Northern Ireland report, suggesting that more needs to be done to develop an ecosystem of innovation in health and social care. We are pleased that the report’s author, Mike Farrar, delivered a keynote address.

Further sessions looked at utilisation of data and addressing key regulatory concerns, including around GDPR and confidentiality, and also Northern Ireland’s unique position as a midway point between the EU Single Market, and the UK Internal Market.

We are also pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with Dan West, Chief Digital Officer, Health and Social Care Northern Ireland; and Brendan McGuigan, Life Sciences Lead, Invest NI.

Overall, the agenda considered:

  • the HSC Digital Strategy: assessing progress in the first year of delivery - policy priorities for digital transformation and taking the strategy forward
  • the Encompass programme: updating legacy systems and prioritising a seamless transition to digital - empowering the HSC workforce - achieving a streamlined care experience
  • utilisation of data: GDPR and patient confidentiality in a new electronic record system - enabling safe and secure use, and ensuring transparency - use of health data in clinical research
  • health innovation: priorities for further R&D into new digital solutions - funding priorities - addressing overspends in innovation - improving rollout and adoption of new innovation
  • social care: developing digital maturity in social care - utilising digital systems and data to support carers - channelling investment to enable interoperability between health and social care
  • harnessing benefits: the role of digital technologies in reducing administrative burdens for clinicians - building efficiency in service delivery and addressing care backlogs
  • regulation: addressing concerns and providing clarity and surety for industry on the regulatory environment in Northern Ireland - benefiting from NI’s unique position between two markets

The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from DAERA; DBT, UK; Department for the Economy; Department of Finance; Department of Health; Department of Health, ROI; and The Scottish Government.

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles