HIQA publishes its Recommendations to the Minister for Health on the Implementation of a National Electronic Patient Summary

This morning the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) published Recommendations to the Minister for Health on the Implementation of a National Electronic Patient Summary.

A national electronic patient summary (also known as a summary care record) was listed by the Slaintecare Implementation Plan (2018) as a crucial element of Ireland’s national eHealth policy and a key area for the modernising of the health and social care system in Ireland. A commitment to introduce summary care records was also featured in the Terms of Agreement between the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Irish Medical Organisation regarding GP Contractual Reform and Service Development (2019).

An electronic patient summary, which is used internationally by healthcare providers, is a snapshot of a patient’s essential clinical information. It brings together information from various IT systems into a single place to support medical treatment during an episode of unscheduled care.

Rachel Flynn, HIQA’s Director of Health Information and Standards, said: “Electronic patient summaries have the potential to make healthcare delivery safer and more effective by ensuring healthcare professionals have access to a patient’s information, such as medical history and prescribed medications, at the point of care. This is essential in an emergency or unscheduled health visit, and very useful during other episodes of care.”

HIQA found that the introduction of a patient summary provided huge benefits for citizens across all age groups and walks of life, resulting in better information, better decisions, and a better experience for all involved. No longer did citizens need to remember details of their health condition or medications repeatedly. Nor did they have to explain recent procedures or diagnosed allergies.

Ms Flynn continued, “A summary care record supports information sharing, the development of digital services and creates greater patient empowerment. Throughout our consultation process, we found that the introduction of a summary care record in Ireland was widely supported.”

HIQA has developed 22 separate recommendations, informed by national and international evidence from nine jurisdictions, expert advice, and public consultation feedback. This supporting evidence is being published alongside the recommendations today and is available on the HIQA website.

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