A nationwide rollout of Electronic Care Records (ECR) is to commence in Northern Ireland after successful pilots led to cost and efficiency savings in staff time and resources.
E-health provider Orion Health Limited has won a seven-year contract worth £9m to provide a clinical portal-based ECR to cover the country's 1.8m population.
Planned roll out will start in late 2012 with completion of the core elements anticipated early summer 2013.
It is hoped the ECR will enable the communication and sharing of patient data across acute, community, primary health and social care.
Pilots in Ulster Hospital Dundonald, the Belfast City Hospital and two general practices found the technology reduced the length of clinic time, improved the quality and safety of patient services as well as achieving cost and efficiency savings.
"I am confident that the Electronic Care Record system will assist in developing a sustainable health care system that delivers now and will continue to deliver in the future for the good of everyone in Northern Ireland," said Northern Ireland's Health Minister Edwin Poots.
The ECR will include patient information, including latest lab results, patient medications, allergies and clinical correspondence.
Audit tools and patient privacy controls are also said to have been built into the ECR to help ensure patient confidentiality.
The ECR will be deployed in 18 acute and community hospitals, all GP practices, community, mental health and social care users across the five regional trusts in Northern Ireland.