Since the publication of 'eHealth Strategy for Ireland’ in 2013 there has been continued progress on the delivery of eHealth initiatives and the deployment of ICT in healthcare settings. This includes new HSE organisational structures for the delivery of eHealth and the setting up of eHealth Ireland as an entity within the HSE, the establishment of the Irish eHealth ecosystem and the development of the eHealth Ireland Advisory Committee. The role of the Office of Chief Information Officer and head of eHealth Ireland was established and the vacancy left by the previous holder of that role is currently being filled.
The Sláintecare report of the Committee on the Future of Healthcare advocates the
“Continued strong support of the e-health strategy – particularly ensuring the necessary funding for timely roll-out of the EHR system"
Working closely with the Sláintecare Project team, the eHealth aspects of the implementation plan are being developed and will address how eHealth and ICT can support the wider goals of health service reform outlined in Sláintecare. Work is also continuing on developing the eHealth strategy to identify the most effective and appropriate approach to the approvals process for the procurement of a national Electronic Health Record solution particularly in the context of the New Children’s Hospital development. The recently published Project Ireland 2040: National Development Plan 2018-2027 states that:
"The National Development Plan will support the provision of digital health services, including the development of electronic health records in many health care settings such as the New Children’s Hospital over the 10-year implementation timescale and reflects what was envisaged in the eHealth strategy for Ireland."
This vision will also be reflected in the forthcoming response to the Sláintecare report.
The Individual Health Identifier (I.H.I.) is an integral part of the eHealth strategy and is given a legal basis in the Health Identifiers Act 2014. On 30 May 2017, a Commencement Order and Regulations under the Health Identifiers Act 2014 were signed, allowing for the implementation of the Individual Health Identifier. An Individual Health Identifier (I.H.I.) pilot programme was initiated by the HSE across a number of selected services and users in May/June 2017 and GP Practice Systems are configured to store and display the IHI and is available to GPs for eReferrals.
The implementation of a national Electronic Health Record and the Individual Health Identifier are challenging long-term programmes within the context of the overall eHealth strategy that will be supported in the years ahead in the context of Sláintecare and the National Development Plan.
Further information and updates on eHealth strategic programmes can be found at http://www.ehealthireland.ie/.