Consultation on New National Health Information Standards launched

Date of publication: 
Monday, November 28, 2011

A public consultation on new standards governing how information must be used, stored and collected has been launched by the Health Information and Quality Authority. HIQA has published the Draft Standards for National Health Information Resources and people are being invited to comment on them over the next eight weeks.

The Standards will apply to all national health information resources in the Republic of Ireland, i.e. organisations that collect data on health and social care on a national basis, such as the National Cancer Registry Ireland (NCRI) and the Hospital Inpatient Enquiry (HIPE).

The aim of the Standards is to drive greater harmonisation of health information to ensure that the data held by national health information resources can be put to even greater use to drive safer, better care. The Standards are an important step in ensuring that the information used to monitor the care of patients and service users, the quality of care received and the delivery of care is of high quality and is complete, accurate and valid. The Standards encourage improved efficiency, increased usability and usefulness of data as well as improved access to data, reduced duplication and support the drive for higher quality data throughout national health information resources.

Professor Jane Grimson, Director of Health Information at HIQA said: “These Standards will help to instil confidence in patients, service users, healthcare professionals and everyone involved in the health and social sector who need high quality information to make well-informed decisions regarding the planning and delivery of services.”       

“Historically, there has been no national strategy or standards in place which has led to a degree of duplication and fragmentation as well as gaps in information across national health information resources. Variability in practice leads to variability in the quality of the data and also to increased costs. These Standards will result in national health information resources producing consistent, understandable and trustworthy information in order to manage and plan our health and social care services,” Professor Grimson said.

The information that national health information resources produce can be used in many different ways. For example, doctors use data to monitor outbreaks of infectious diseases and health service planners use data on diseases to plan for future healthcare services. Improving the quality of the data collected will help all healthcare professionals to provide a safer, more effective, higher quality service. These Standards will drive improvements in the information that health and social care policy makers and health service providers use.

Following consultation, HIQA will review all submissions received to inform the content of the Standards. Once approved by the Board of the Authority, the final Standards will then be submitted to the Minister for Health and published. The closing date to submit comments is 20 January 2012.

Further Information: 

Marty Whelan, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement
01 8147481/ 086 2447623 or email mwhelan@hiqa.ie

Notes to the Editor: 

Background to the Standards

Under the Health Act 2007, HIQA has responsibility for setting standards for all aspects of health information and monitoring compliance with those standards. The Authority is also charged with evaluating the quality of the information available on health and social care and making recommendations in relation to improving the quality and filling in gaps where information is needed but is not currently available.

Health and social care users will benefit from:

  • improved information governance
  • more informed decision making
  • higher quality and safer care for everyone
  • better use of public monies benefiting all users of health and social care services.

Health and social care professionals will benefit as:

  • the quality of information will be better assured
  • information will be delivered in ways that better support its intended use
  • relevant information will be more accessible for informed decision making
  • the time spent accessing and recording information will be reduced
  • the quality of health and social care services research will improve.

Health and social care organisations will benefit as:

  • more valuable, accurate information will be available
  • information will be more easily accessible
  • the duplication of data entry effort will be significantly reduced
  • risk management will be improved
  • there will be improved access to information which will allow greater comparison between healthcare agencies
  • there will be an increase in the reliability and accessibility of information which will facilitate greater performance monitoring
  • improved information will be available for service planning and service delivery.