Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (475)

Róisín Shortall


475. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the timeline he is working toward for the implementation of a unique health identifier system, which was originally promised to be rolled out in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2277/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Individual Health Identifier (IHI) is an important patient safety initiative and a fundamental part of my Department’s eHealth strategy and Sláintecare.

It is the intention to embed the IHI into all health systems nationally, across multiple sites and as such, it is a multi annual programme of work. New systems are required to accommodate it as a basic requirement during procurement and decisions with regard to which legacy systems should have it retrofitted versus those that will be retired are made on a case by case basis. The sequencing of the candidate health systems that will be populated with the IHI is determined by criteria such as that relating to clinical benefit resulting from the interaction of those systems with IHI included. Opportunities also arise for candidate system to be populated with IHI and the HSE are mindful of leveraging those opportunities.

Since May 2016, all electronic referrals from GP practice management systems to hospitals have been populated with IHI's provided the referral includes sufficient data to enable IHI matching. The IHI has been seeded into a number of Health Service Systems including PCRS. GP Practice systems have been upgraded to accommodate the IHI and PCRS plan to include the IHI in the monthly file that issues to each practice for all patients covered by medical cards and GP visit cards. Data matching analysis has been completed for 16.7 million Health Service System records including the National Medical Laboratory Information System (MedLIS), the National Cancer Screening Service, Immunisation and a number of Acute Hospital Patient Administration (PAS) systems.

Arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, the IHI was rapidly deployed for the Covid Case Tracker and has been included on all Covid-19 referrals for tests or assessments. While the Covid-19 pandemic suspended the planned 2020 roll-out of IHI to national systems, IHI will be implemented as a matter of priority in the context of Covid vaccinations and the national Covid Vaccination System in 2021. The objective is that all Covid vaccination records will contain a unique ID for each person who receives the vaccine, and that ID will be the IHI.

The IHI has been critical in the management of Covid as it enables unique identification of the patient across all events and health records relating to the individual along the Covid Care pathway. This means that clinical interactions can be tracked, linked and audited and diagnostic outcomes can be returned to the correct individual and clinicians managing that individuals care. The IHI also provides access to all information required in relation to contacting the individual for contact tracing, scheduling care and communicating results.