HIQA publishes new national standards to improve management of health information in health and social care services

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published new national standards to improve how information is managed in Ireland’s health and social care services. 

The National Standards for Information Management in Health and Social Care were developed by HIQA and have been approved by the Minister for Health. 

They are being published at a time of significant policy developments around health information at both national and European level, including the forthcoming European Health Data Space regulation and Health Information Bill. The standards will also support the implementation of the Department of Health’s recently published strategy, Digital for Care: A Digital Health Framework for Ireland 2024-2030

HIQA’s Director of Health Information and Standards, Rachel Flynn, said: 
“High-quality health information is the foundation of a high-quality and safe health and social care service. These standards aim to drive safer better care by providing a roadmap for organisations and services to improve the management of their health and social care information. It is important that all organisations have the appropriate structures, systems, policies and procedures in place for information managment. This will facilitate timely, evidence-based decision-making, reduce waste and improve service efficiency, and ultimately improve the safety and quality of care. 

“If organisations and services work towards meeting the national standards, it will ultimately contribute to the delivery of safe and reliable care for everyone. In addition, through adopting a human rights-based approach to information management, services and organisations can ensure that they effectively engage with individuals, groups and communities regarding how their information is managed and use information in a way that respects privacy and promotes equity.”

Findings from the first National Public Engagement on Health Information carried out in 2021 showed that the vast majority of people in Ireland are happy for information about their health to be collected, used and shared electronically, once proper safeguards are in place. These new standards provide a framework to assure the public that their information is being appropriately managed.

To support organisations to meet these standards, HIQA has also published three guidance documents. Together, the national standards and guidance will help to drive improvements across the health information system by setting out what is expected of services managing data and information as Ireland advances its system-wide transition to digital health. 

Ms Flynn continued: “A system-wide approach is necessary to ensure that all organisations put in place arrangements to ensure data is of high quality and treated in a confidential manner. This is essential to achieve the Sláintecare vision of one universal health service for all, providing the right care in the right place at the right time. Good information management practices are also essential to providing assurances on the quality of the major national repositories of data that are used to monitor diseases, manage services, inform policy-making, conduct research, and plan for future health and social care needs. 

Read the national standards and resources at www.hiqa.ie

Ends.

For further information please contact:

Marty Whelan, HIQA’s Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement
085 805 5202 / mwhelan@hiqa.ie

Notes to the editor:

  • Under the Health Act 2007 (as amended), HIQA has a legislative remit to set standards for health information for the HSE, Tusla, and associated service providers and to monitor compliance with these standards. The standards can be used by all services and organisations that collect, use or share health and social care information to improve information management across the entire system.
  • The standards are set out under four principles of: Human Rights-Based Approach; Responsiveness, Safety and Wellbeing, and Accountability. They aim to ensure that:
    • information management takes a human rights-based approach, which means that an organisation places an emphasis on protecting and promoting people’s rights relating to their information including their privacy and confidentiality, but also their autonomy, dignity, values, preferences and diversity;
    • an organisation is responsive by taking a strategic and systematic approach to information governance including privacy and confidentiality, data quality, data security, data accessibility, and to ensure that maximum benefit is achieved from its data and information;
    • an organisation has accurate, relevant and timely information to deliver and monitor safe and high-quality care for every person, and through effective engagement with key stakeholders, organisations design, develop and maintain data and systems to ensure a person and professionals involved in their care have access to accurate information in a real-time way and to enable safe sharing of data for primary and secondary uses;
    • an organisation is accountable by having the necessary governance arrangements in place to manage information appropriately in line with relevant legislation; 
  • The European Health Data Space Regulation aims to create a standardised health data space across the EU, allowing individuals to control and utilise their health data at home or in other Member States. It aims to also enhance the use of data for secondary purposes across the EU by making it possible for researchers, innovators and policy-makers to use this data in a trusted and secure way that preserves privacy.
  • A series of webinars will be held later this year to highlight what the standards will mean for the health and social care sector in Ireland. 
  • The following guidance documents are being published to support the implementation of the standards:
    • The Assessment Judgment Framework
    • Guide to the Assessment Judgment Framework 
    • Self-assessment tool.