An electronic system to record every patient is being introduced in a major new move to improve the speed, quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery across Northern Ireland.
All information will now be brought together to one place to avoid unnecessary duplication of blood tests and x-ray investigations, allow clinicians more time to carry out treatments and reduce costs.
After being piloted at the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, Co Down and Belfast City Hospital, the system will be rolled out over the next seven years. More than 2,000 clinical staff are expected to be accessing it by December.
He claimed: "It gives our doctors and nurses a window into all the important health and care information that they need to provide the best care for a patient.
"They will be able to look at information currently held in a multitude of different systems across the Northern Ireland health and social care sector, to see details of past or ongoing diagnoses and investigations or treatments.
"This will enable better, safer, faster care and treatment for everyone whose care team uses the system. More timely access by healthcare professionals to more complete information will benefit all patients, reduce duplication and wasted time, and improve safety - for example, doctors can check your x-rays and test results on the computer as soon as they are available, so your treatment can start sooner."
Every household is to get a leaflet explaining the system. The minister, who studied it for himself during a visit to the US, added: "Confidentiality and data security remain a key priority across the health and social care system, and the NIECR has undergone rigorous testing and can only be accessed by authorised staff over the secure health and social care network who need to see it to support patient care.
"This is a new and innovative way of doing things, and an example of how cutting-edge technology, clinical leadership and a collaborative approach can transform information into better care for patients.
Maeve Hully, chief executive of the Patient and Client Council, said: "People have told us they can't understand why the right information isn't available to those making decisions about their care, in the right place at the right time. This is a sensible development which reflects what people want and expect. It will avoid the need for people to tell their story many times to health care staff."