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encompass: from abstract to reality

28th June 2019

There was an incredible turnout of staff for a recent encompass programme session, aimed at highlighting the benefits of a new integrated digital health and social care record for Northern Ireland.

With almost 500 staff from across HSC and patient and service user representatives attending the joint meeting of the programme’s Digital Care Forum and Digital Business Support Forum  in the Craigavon Civic Centre on 6 June, it was standing room only for some late comers.

The event attracted a broad range of staff keen to find out more about the reality of moving to a new system, which will bring all health and care information into one location and dramatically change the way staff, patients and service users will interact.

Having moved into the final stages of the procurement process the programme team were keen to ensure staff had an opportunity to hear details around the functionality and scope of the new system and the projected timeline for implementation.

The delegates were informed that encompass hoped to have approval to notify its intention to award the contract and are now happy to confirm that Epic have been advised that it is the Programme’s intention to award the contract, contingent on approval of a full business case.

Delegates also heard from staff who already have some practical experience of using an electronic care record and were able to ask them questions about the benefits and some of the challenges faced.

Chairs of the Digital Care Forum and the Digital Business Support Forum,  Dr Michael Quinn and Denise Lynd, updated delegates on the function of both groups.

Rachel Dunscombe at the encompass event

Rachel Dunscombe was among the speakers

Programme team members Laura Molloy and Eunice Heelham described the potential ways staff can get involved and the types of roles that will be available. These include  including workflow analyst, subject matter experts, principle trainers and clinical champions. As part of the recruitment drive a series of roadshows will be held during the summer across all Trusts and partner HSC organisations. Details will be announced over the coming weeks.

Click for photographs from the event

Rachel Dunscombe, CEO Digital Academy and consultant with KLAS, discussed her recent visit to hospitals in Northern Ireland, highlighting HSC’s readiness to implement the new system, thanks to investment in ehealth systems, infrastructure and associated hardware. She perfectly captured the emotion of the day as ‘pioneer syndrome’, describing the excitement of going forward into unchartered territory.

Speaking after the event Gary Loughran, Programme Director, said it was a “momentous” time for the programme, as the procurement process comes to an end and a preferred supplier is selected.

“We’re on the cusp of a momentous decision by Programe Board to select a preferred supplier. Today’s event was a truly humbling experience, but it was not surprising to see health and social care professionals so obviously keen to embrace digital transformation.

“It will be a major challenge but a vital one which will allow us to better use resources and remove artificial boundaries, leading to better access to high quality services for all HSC users,” he said.

For more information on how you can get involved in the encompass programme visit