HIQA warns that Ireland needs to 'move fast' and invest in new health information technology

The watchdog says safe & reliable healthcare relies on "accurate, relevant and accessible" information

HIQA warns that Ireland needs to 'move fast' and invest in new health information technology

Photo: Sasko Lazarov

Hospitals need to make better use of new technology to reduce clinical errors, according to the health watchdog.

HIQA has made a submission to a Department of Health consultation criticising Ireland as one of the last developed countries to harness the technologies available.

They say the health service needs to be future-proofed with a move away from paper based records.

HIQA have highlighted inconsistencies in recording maternal sepsis, uncovered after the death of Savita Halappanavar, as one of the results of an antiquated paper-based system.

Rachel Flynn, HIQA’s Director of Health Information and Standards, explained: “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.

"Most countries are legislating for and investing in eHealth because they realise that it can significantly reduce clinical errors, improve patient safety and create efficiencies. Ireland needs to move in the same direction, and fast."

The organisation warns that the "health information landscape is currently highly fragmented", saying that legislation is needed to ensure information is appropriately accessible and protected.

Ms Flynn added: “The development of a health information policy and legislation provides us with the opportunity to future proof our health and social care systems and effectively and safely handle the demographic and technological challenges ahead."