Govt-appointed health CIO to drive eHealth Ireland strategy

17 Dec 2013

The Irish Government has kick-started a recruitment campaign to appoint a CIO to develop Ireland’s future health services. Specifically, a new Health Identifiers Bill 2013 will provide the legal basis for unique identifiers for public and private patients.

A dedicated branded entity called eHealth Ireland will be established and headed by the new CIO who will be recruited through open competition.

Priority areas for initial developments include e-prescribing, online referrals and scheduling, telehealth to manage chronic diseases, and the development of summary patient records.

Key to the entire strategy is the creation of individual health identifiers, which are aimed at ensuring patent safety and ensuring that the right information is associated with the right individual at the point of care.

The unique health identifiers will be a building block for health reform initiatives, including Money Follows the Patient.

eHealth Ecosystems will be a key mechanism for delivering on the eHealth strategy. These will involve partnerships between health service providers, academia, industry and patients. Such eHealth Ecosystems have been established in a number of EU countries and are amenable to cross-border co-operation.

“The eHealth Strategy will put Ireland in a position to fully exploit all of the many benefits which today’s information and communication technology has to offer in modernising the way we treat patients and particularly in providing care in the most appropriate setting and at the most appropriate level within the health services,” said Health Minister Dr James Reilly.

“From my perspective, the eHealth strategy could not have come at a better time because e-health is a key enabler of change, the type of radical reform that we have put in train for our health services. I am also pleased by the proposals for co-operation with Northern Ireland in this area.”

Reilly added: “I firmly believe that Ireland’s extensive IT and healthcare industry sectors make us very well placed to exploit e-health, not just to radically improve our own health services, but as an emerging area within the wider ICT industry which will have a significant part to play in achieving this Government’s targets for jobs and economic growth.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years