HIQA publishes its Recommendations to the Minister for Health on the Implementation of a National Electronic Patient Summary

Date of publication:

This morning the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) published Recommendations to the Minister for Health on the Implementation of a National Electronic Patient Summary.

A national electronic patient summary (also known as a summary care record) was listed by the Slaintecare Implementation Plan (2018) as a crucial element of Ireland’s national eHealth policy and a key area for the modernising of the health and social care system in Ireland. A commitment to introduce summary care records was also featured in the Terms of Agreement between the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Irish Medical Organisation regarding GP Contractual Reform and Service Development (2019).

An electronic patient summary, which is used internationally by healthcare providers, is a snapshot of a patient’s essential clinical information. It brings together information from various IT systems into a single place to support medical treatment during an episode of unscheduled care.

Rachel Flynn, HIQA’s Director of Health Information and Standards, said: “Electronic patient summaries have the potential to make healthcare delivery safer and more effective by ensuring healthcare professionals have access to a patient’s information, such as medical history and prescribed medications, at the point of care. This is essential in an emergency or unscheduled health visit, and very useful during other episodes of care.”

HIQA found that the introduction of a patient summary provided huge benefits for citizens across all age groups and walks of life, resulting in better information, better decisions, and a better experience for all involved. No longer did citizens need to remember details of their health condition or medications repeatedly. Nor did they have to explain recent procedures or diagnosed allergies.

Ms Flynn continued, “A summary care record supports information sharing, the development of digital services and creates greater patient empowerment. Throughout our consultation process, we found that the introduction of a summary care record in Ireland was widely supported.”

HIQA has developed 22 separate recommendations, informed by national and international evidence from nine jurisdictions, expert advice, and public consultation feedback. This supporting evidence is being published alongside the recommendations today and is available on the HIQA website.

Further information:
Marty Whelan, Head of Communications & Stakeholder Engagement
085 805 5202, mwhelan@hiqa.ie

Notes to Editor:

  • HIQA is publishing the following documents today:

    • Recommendations on the Implementation of a National Electronic Patient Summary
    • Statement of Outcomes on public engagement on Recommendations on the Implementation of a National Electronic Patient Summary in Ireland.
  • Twenty-two recommendations have been developed.
    • The Recommendations cover six important aspects of the national programme: policy and legislation, programme governance, stakeholder engagement, use of national health identifiers, potential sources of information, phased implementation.
  • In October 2020, HIQA, in partnership with the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE) rolled out a National Public Engagement Survey on Health Information.
    • The survey asked 1,200 members of the public for their feedback on how their personal health information is collected, used and shared by health and social care services in Ireland and their opinions on the use of digital technologies in this area.
  • In 2019, HIQA published the National Standard on Information Requirements for a National, Electronic Patient Summary, which defines both the situations where a patient summary is used — unscheduled care, such as when attending an out of hours GP clinic or the emergency department of a hospital — and the clinical dataset required for a national, electronic patient summary for Ireland.
    • HIQA has created an animation to explain a national electronic patient summary, which can be found here.
    • The Patient Summary is expected to contain the following clinical information:
  • subject of care (the patient’s demographic information)
  • health conditions
  • medication prescribed
  • allergies
  • procedures
  • vaccinations.