The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) is to rollout a new £80 million IT system that should enable military health records to be accessed across the UK, overseas and on the battlefield, after successful pilot projects at two MOD sites.

LogicaCMG is responsible for the IT component of the Defence Medical Information Capability Programme (DMICP), having been awarded the contract last year.

The successful pilots of the system were at Chicksands and Waterbeach Medical Centres, and the first full rollout has now been completed at Colchester Medical Reception Station.

The DMICP programme is now scheduled to be rolled out to all UK army medical facilities, then to the RAF, Royal Navy, Defence Dental Services and permanent overseas bases, within the next 12 months. It will then be deployed in hospitals in the field and on battleships. By 2010, the MOD hopes that the electronic health records of armed forces personnel will be fully integrated with NHS information systems, in theory enabling the NHS records of new recruits to be imported directly into the Defence Medical Services and exported back to civilian GPs on their leaving the military.

Until now, military health records have been held exclusively on paper or on non-networked computers, making access particularly difficult when troops are away. Derek Twigg, Under Secretary of State for Defence, said: “Doctors, pharmacists, nurses and other health professionals will now benefit from one central database, providing the most up to date information on their patients.”

It is also hoped that the system will allow the armed forces to track patterns of illness and recovery, in order to improve treatment.

The system will incorporate the Emis clinical information tool currently used by over half of GPs as part of the troubled NHS National Programme for IT, as well as using a reporting tool from Cognos.

Under the auspices of the national program, the NHS last month began rolling out its own system for transferring health-care records between GPs.