HIQA seeks feedback on vision for integrated health services for older people

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is asking the public for their feedback on its Draft Recommendations on the ICT Enablement of Older Persons Services.

HIQA is encouraging submissions from the public during a six-week consultation on these draft recommendations. This is following which a final version will be submitted to the Minister of Health as advice.

In common with many other countries, Ireland is facing an ageing population. Those aged 65 years or more expected to account for 50% of all healthcare activity by 2031. The COVID-19 pandemic intensified existing challenges for older people in healthcare services. They typically move between care settings. They therefore require very close coordination between the different health and social care areas.

Furthermore, older persons’ services are delivered by a broad range of health and social care professionals. Their health information is typically held in a number of IT systems, or in paper records. This makes it extremely difficult for healthcare professionals treating an older person to share information safely and effectively.

HIQA developed these draft recommendations to address the challenge of ensuring that information can be shared effectively. This is across settings through ICT enablement. This project was a key recommendation from the COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel. It is in line with national priorities, including Sláintecare.

HIQA’s Director of Health Information and Standards, Rachel Flynn, said:

“Infrastructure to enable the sharing of information is underdeveloped in Ireland. But is very much necessary to support integrated care, as set out in Sláintecare. HIQA looked at the wide mix of services that are delivered to older people. This was to understand how information can be shared safely and effectively, among the professionals providing that care. Some of these services are provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE) in addition to others are outside the HSE. This is such as private nursing homes, GPs, and others.

“As with many countries, the emphasis has been placed on implementing national infrastructure. This is to enable the sharing of information not just for older people. It is for all people using health and social care. Specific to the area of older persons’ care, there is a need to have clear governance that incorporates all service providers in that journey. This is like a clear strategy, as well as the other measures outlined in the recommendations.

“Feedback from stakeholders on the ICT enablement of older persons’ services is vital to this programme’s success. The consultation will ask people to consider what governance structures should be in place to provide oversight. This is as well as how patient and public representation can be built into that structure among other key issues.”

What HIQA aims to do to with the feedback:

Through this public consultation, HIQA is seeking to ensure that patients, their families and carers, professionals, organisations, and the general public can provide their views and contribute to the development of these recommendations. All feedback received will therefore be analysed and used to inform the final recommendations.

The Draft Recommendations for ICT Enablement of Older Persons’ Services are available on www.hiqa.ie. To take part in the consultation, please complete the short survey either online or in the .pdf feedback form by 5pm on Friday, 29 April 2022.

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