We need efficient, integrated and timely information to implement our reform programme. While significant progress has been made in addressing information deficits and information standards, for instance by HIQA, the patient-level information flows necessary to implement elements of the reform programme will require major strategic initiatives.
In December 2013, we launched our eHealth strategy. eHealth effectively marries specification of patient data with technology as an enabler and, therefore, offers a wider solution to support models of integrated care. Our approach will include building relationships with the ICT industry and academia and working with our partners in Europe in line with the EU eHealth Action Plan 2012 – 2020, to maximise the potential for innovation and improvement.
In May 2013, during the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU, we had eHealth Week. It comprised a High Level eHealth Conference co-organised by the European Commission. the Department of Health and the World of Health IT Conference & Exhibition (WoHIT) organised by HIMSS Europe.
eHealth Ireland is being established to focus on the promotion and implementation of an eHealth agenda. Priority areas for initial development include ePrescribing, online referrals and scheduling, Telehealth (particularly relating to the management of chronic disease) and the development of summary patient records.
Governance is a very important aspect of these reforms and we are providing for good governance through the Health Information Bill. We decided to prioritise the development of an individual health identifier and so we published the Health Identifiers Bill.