The Health Boards Executive has put a tender out to IT service providers to develop and implement a major health services portal that will develop from being an information delivery site to having interactive services such as virtual doctors online and enabling patients to monitor their own conditions.
The Health Boards Executive has called on IT services firms to apply by 12 January 2004 with the aim of completing the project by December next year. However, a number of elements of the tender are expected to be prepared by May next year when the Irish Government hosts the major EU eHealth conference. The tender document indicates that firms or consortiums bidding for the tender will be decided upon in terms of the most economically advantageous bid.
According to a briefing document prepared by management consultants Accenture and Prospectus Consulting, the aim of the Health Services Portal is to create a single, consistent multi-lingual point of contact for the public as well as facilitate services that could be accessible through multiple channels such as the telephone, walk-in centres, self-service kiosks, TV, the internet and mobile devices.
The aim is also to facilitate collaborative working within the health sector, including such concepts as virtual surgery and the exchange of information between a wide range of healthcare professionals.
Over time the portal will develop its breadth and depth by progressing from an information services portal to a fully interactive service featuring virtual doctors online, self-service for patients and proactive health management by patients, such as being able to monitor their own conditions and view their health records.
The portal is expected to be the driving force behind a “coherent, enterprise-wide health system response to the requirements of e-government in the health services”, detailed in the Irish Government’s New Connections strategy document as well as the European Union’s blueprint for eEurope 2004.
In tandem with Ireland’s hosting of the EU eHealth conference in May next year, a number of elements of the portal will be expected to be ready to go live at that time, including such services as a Health Services Director, health information, job advertisements, online replies to anonymous enquiries, up-to-date information on waiting lists, an online library, online applications for health cards, health alerts, online access for civil registry certificates such as birth certificates, an e-learning section and an online collaboration section aimed at health service employees.
By John Kennedy