New figures from the Government show that just over 70,200 patients were waiting for an inpatient or day case hospital procedure at the end of December.
The waiting list numbers from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) show that the number of people waiting for a procedure has fallen to 70,204 - from a peak of 86,100 in July 2017.
This represents a reduction of over 18% in the overall number.
Health Minister Simon Harris has welcomed the improvements, but says significant work to be done.
"Improving access for patients is a key priority and today's publication highlights the continued progress that is being made by the HSE and the NTPF in delivering on this priority."
"Last year saw considerable improvements to the number of patients waiting over nine months which has almost halved since July 2017 from 28,100 to 14,900.
"The impact is particularly notable when one considers the improvements to the waiting lists for those particular specialties which were the focus of the Inpatient/Daycase Action Plan in 2018."
Source: Department of Health
These include numbers waiting over nine months for a cataract procedure (down by 87% since July 2017), numbers waiting nine months for a tonsillectomy (down by 84% in the same period) and angiograms, which have fallen by 88%.
The figures also show that progress is being made in meeting the Sláintecare recommendation that patients should wait no longer than 12 weeks for an inpatient procedure.
Since July 2017, the number of patients waiting longer than three months has fallen from just under 58,000 to 40,200 - a fall of 31%.