The Health Observatory calls for an “urgent” reform of the health information system

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The most significant gaps in our health and social protection system are the “major deficiencies” that exist around the collection, use and sharing of information, the country’s health watchdog said. .

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) released a report calling for “urgent” reform of the health information system in Ireland.

The report, released today, makes six recommendations regarding the strategy, leadership, legislation, workforce, standards and health information infrastructure needed to establish a national health information system. effective and efficient health.

Rachel Flynn, director of health information and standards at Hiqa, said that whenever a patient visits their GP, goes to the hospital, to a specialist or even has a blood test , health information is created.

“This valuable data is usually managed on different electronic systems or on paper, which is inefficient and can have an impact on the safety of people,” she said.

“Our frontline staff need high quality, timely and accurate patient information to ensure the best possible care is provided. “

Urgent reform is needed, otherwise Ireland’s health and social care services will remain inefficient and inefficient.

The report highlights some areas of good practice, including high levels of ICT use in general medicine, the national electronic referral program and national medical imaging systems.

“However, Ireland still lags behind countries internationally in terms of health information and this report has identified significant gaps,” the report says.

“There is a lack of governance structures, policies and appropriate legislation at the national level.

“Hiqa recognizes that the implementation of any health information system is extremely complex and difficult.”

In Ireland, there is no single body to coordinate information at national level.

This leads to an “overall lack of accountability and coordination” for information across the Irish health and welfare system, the report says.

Ms Flynn said: “We believe that an entity should be created to provide strategic leadership and governance for health information outside of HSE. It needs to be funded and resourced.

Legislation is needed because currently there is no comprehensive legal framework for the collection, use and sharing of health information.

Hiqa acknowledges that the deployment of the Covid-19 vaccination program was “exceptionally successful by international standards”, but notes that it required a new system to support its implementation.

“The lack of a digital system to manage not only Covid-19 vaccinations, but all vaccination programs was notable,” Hiqa said.

“During the cyberattack on HSE, our health department reverted to paper files and suffered from an increase in waiting lists and rescheduled appointments, which had an impact on personal safety.”

He added: “This clearly demonstrates that our health service cannot function without health information and that IT security needs to be strengthened. “


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