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Digital Health and Care Northern Ireland

Digital Health and Care Northern Ireland

What is Digital Health and Care Northern Ireland (DHCNI)?

Digital Health and Care Northern Ireland (DHCNI) is the data and technology lead to the Health and Social Care (HSC) system in Northern Ireland.

Our mission is to harness the power of data and digital technology to improve health and care for every patient, client and citizen, while improving working practices for all HSC staff.

DHCNI sets out to develop the vision and strategy for Digital Transformation in Health and Social Care, to direct and oversee the central budget for Digital investments and work in partnership with, and commission projects and services from, the Business Services Organisation.

DHCNI also aims to bring together the disparate digital functions across the six HSC Trusts:

  • collaborate to develop a region wide strategy;
  • build an integrated and collaborative leadership and governance function;
  • facilitate shared decision making;
  • set policies and standards for IT and Information across Health and Social Care; and
  • provide services and support where relevant.

DHCNI works to bring together the disparate digital functions across the six Health Trusts in Northern Ireland, collaborating to develop a regional wide strategy.Digital Health and Care Northern Ireland is led by the Department of Health and is an amalgamation of the Health and Social Care Board’s former eHealth and Care Directorate and the Public Health Agency’s Centre for Connected Health and Social Care. DHCNI directs and oversees the central budget for digital investments, works in partnership with  the Business Services Organisation (BSO) and other suppliers to commissions projects and services.

DHCNI  works to bring together the disparate digital functions across the six Health Trusts in Northern Ireland, collaborating to develop a regional wide strategy.

What will DHCNI do?

We will:

  • Ensure that everyone’s data is protected by assuring the quality, safety and security of data and information flows across the health and social care sector.
  • Empower individuals to care for themselves and take control of their own health and wellbeing.
  • Provide our staff with access to high quality information, equipped with the digital resources they need to deliver safe, high quality and efficient care that meet regional and local need.
  • Equip the wider Health and Social Care system (HSC) to be joined-up and efficient with informed patient journeys based on secure, real-time patient data.
  • Make HSC the system one that attracts innovators wanting to learn about informatics excellence.

How does DHCNI work?

The purpose of DHCNI will include:

  • Creation of a new integrated and collaborative leadership team spanning the current silos of the Department of Health (DoH), the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), the Public Health Agency (PHA), the Business Services Organisation (BSO) and the six HSC Trusts;
  • Setting regional policy and developing best practice for HSC technology, digital and data – including data-sharing and transparency;
  • Use of portfolio management tools and techniques to reduce administrative activities and focus more on strategic improvements;
  • Building a comprehensive programme plan to map dependencies between the various programmes and activities;
  • Developing a library of data and technology principles, policies and standards for Health and Care including cyber security so that HSC care systems have security designed in from the start;
  • Helping to improve health and social care by delivering agile, user-focused projects in collaboration with Trusts and other service providers;
  • Supporting the use of new technologies by the HSC, both by working with industry and via its own prototyping and development capability including SBRI;
  • Ensuring that common technologies and services are designed so service providers do not have to reinvent the wheel each time – once for NI approach;
  • Identifying how we can build a digital design capability for system-wide thinking and planning;
  • Championing and developing digital training, skills and culture so our staff are digital-ready;
  • Developing our digital eco-system, working across the service and with our research, academic and private sector partners through a new programme of engagement.

Our Operating Model

In a response to capability analysis, Chief Digital Information Officer (CDIO) Dan West, has instigated a process to redefine the roles and structures of the PHA Centre for Connected Health and Social Care and the HSCB eHealth and Care Directorate.

The image shows the 15 capability areas in the new DHCNI Operating Model, with existing resources and managers already allocated into these capabilities in a collaborative and transparent role mapping process.

Our Strategy

Technology is already transforming the way we live our lives – at home, in how we interact socially and at work. Technology offers massive potential to realise our ambitions to shift the focus of our health and care system from crisis intervention towards prevention, enablement and supported self-management as outlined in Health and Wellbeing 2026 – Delivering Together launched in October 2016 by the Department of Health.

Taking on board the progress made since the launch of the regional eHealth and Care strategy in March 2016, it is recognised that the time is right to refocus and consolidate our digital and information approach to health and social care delivery.

Through Digital Health, we will empower people to be more active in their own care and support health and social care staff in delivering the best possible health and wellbeing for everyone.

Digital health will be valued if it supports equitable and universal access to quality health and care services; ensures the sustainability of our services, improves the quality and experience of care; and strengthens the health of our population through the scaling up of health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis, management, rehabilitation and palliative care.

In addition digital health will enable health and social care staff to have the right information in the right place at the right time to ensure effective, efficient and safe decision making. The vision further seeks to enhance research, innovation and collaboration across sectors. It recognises that digital health can be a game-changer as it improves the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of care, allowing for new models in the delivery of services.

This strategy will set out an ambitious plan for HSC to exploit, new and emerging technologies and apply these to health and social care. Digital services will not wholly replace traditional ways of working but provide a real choice to those who prefer to use technology.

The approach outlined in this strategy will:

  • Digitally empower citizens – enabling people who prefer to use technology to view their records, amend their personal data, complete assessments, access online information, support therapy/care and provide feedback on the services they receive;
  • Digitally enable care professionals – enabling them to do their jobs in more flexible and innovative ways, and giving them more time to spend with patients; having access to quality data for proactive and real time decision making;
  • Digitally equip services – increased use of technology will enable providers to operate more flexibly, safely and efficiently.

In short this strategy aims to digitally empower citizens by digitally enabling care professionals and digitally equipping the system.