First ever report on Irish attitudes towards healthcare released

5 Oct 2016

Pictured at the launch of ‘My Healthcare, My Future’ were Minister for Health, Simon Harris, TD and Ger Brennan, MD for human health at MSD. Image: Naoise Culhane

A major report into the public’s views on the future of the Irish healthcare industry has found that digital records are a must, online access a necessity and technological advancements absolutely key.

80pc of Irish people believe it’s very important that technology will be used to make healthcare services better. 84pc think GPs and hospitals should have access to patient medical data online, whereas 74pc think the public should be able to access their own online medical data.

This and more was revealed in ‘My Healthcare, My Future’, the product of interviews with 1,000 members of the public, a series of focus groups and interviews with professionals in the industry.

Future Human

Irish healthcare

Orchestrated by MSD, the report found that the vast majority of Irish citizens would happily visit their pharmacist rather than GP, if the opportunity was such, while the number of people pessimistic about the future of the industry is almost matched by those optimistic.

The report also found that the public tends to compare its experience as a consumer of healthcare to being a consumer of other services and industries, with respect surprisingly prominent in their thoughts.

The ability to check ‘live’ wait times online before attending emergency departments would be considered useful, particularly for cases that in reality, may be of lower urgency. The overall theme? Online is good.

There was consensus among respondents regarding patients’ needs, which include an accessible and affordable healthcare system for all, clear communication on scheduling and treatments, and early access to new medicines and treatments.

Calling the report a “valuable piece of research”, Minister for Health, Simon Harris, TD said: “The value of the research is that it allows people using our health services to tell us what they think in their own words and in terms of their own experiences, perceptions and hopes.”

Interestingly hospitals, psychologically speaking, are not the be-all and end-all, with 93pc surveyed willing to used ‘community-based’ services instead, if appropriate. This combined with the earlier pharmacy statistic, means a localisation of services could prove beneficial in future.

The number of visits by people into some arena of the healthcare system is high. The average number of visits to GPs in the past 12 months was 4.7 per person, with visits to the pharmacy almost double that.

Over one-quarter of those questioned had been to an emergency department in the past year, and 43pc had met with a consultant of some regard.

Ger Brennan, MD for human health at MSD Ireland, said:  “Our objective was to create a platform for industry, government, the health sector and all interested parties to have an open debate, focusing on the opportunities available to provide a healthcare system that works better for all.

“It is evident from the research that the public is keen to add its voice to this discussion. We hope that the outputs of this report contribute to an inclusive debate and help us, both industry and government alike, to devise relevant solutions for patients.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic