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HIQA’s Director of Health Information and Standards, Rachel Flynn, has claimed that, since HIQA’s establishment ten years ago, the authority has identified a number of health information deficiencies, particularly in the context of our statutory healthcare investigations.

She highlighted the 2013 report of the patient safety investigation into the death of Savita Halappanavar, in which significant inconsistencies in the recording and reporting of maternal sepsis were noted.

The Director’s statement was made as a submission to the Department of Health’s public consultation on a new national health information policy has been published by HIQA.

The publication emphasised the need for strong health information legislation to ensure a reliable, efficient and safe healthcare system in Ireland.

Ms Flynn continued: “HIQA’s report stressed the need for the timely sharing of health information in order to identify and manage risks to patient safety.

“It is clear that we need to move away from our paper-based system and avail of new technology to improve the quality and reliability of health data, and in doing so, improve our health and social care services”.

She criticised that Ireland is among the last of the developed countries to adopt technology that is currently available, claiming that we need to move towards eHealth to significantly reduce clinical errors, improve patient safety and create efficiencies.

She continued: “Ireland needs to develop strong health information policies and legislation to advance the eHealth agenda and to support, for example, the introduction of electronic health records.

“Ireland’s health information landscape is currently highly fragmented and legislation is vital to ensure that valuable information is accessed, shared and governed appropriately and that an individual’s personal health information is protected”.

The Director advised that this publication could be an opportunity to “future proof” our health and social care systems and safely handle the demographic and technological challenges ahead.