HIQA publishes Standards to support eHealth strategy

Date of publication:

Important steps towards Ireland’s eHealth strategy were taken today with the publication of Health Information and Quality Authority Standards for electronic prescribing and the electronic transfer of prescriptions.

The two Standards, Data model for an electronic medicinal product reference catalogue – a National Standard and ePrescription dataset and clinical document architecture standard, outline a data model for a medicinal product reference catalogue, and a data set and technical specification for electronic prescriptions.

HIQA’s Acting Director of Health Information Rachel Flynn said: “eHealth is an important enabler for transforming healthcare, and as one of the lead organisations in supporting the eHealth vision for Ireland, HIQA is committed to a programme of work that supports its implementation. ePrescribing has been identified as a key priority for Ireland in the National eHealth Strategy (2013),1 and multiple standards are required to enable its roll-out nationally.

“Medication error is one of the most common adverse events in Irish healthcare and ePrescribing gives health providers an important tool to safely and efficiently manage patients’ medications. The two Standards published today support the implementation of electronic prescribing. They provide a consistent approach to the identification and naming of medicines prescribed and dispensed, and a mechanism for safely exchanging clinical documents.

“These Standards pave the way for improved health services by reducing medication prescription and transcription errors, leading to increased quality and efficiency, and safer services for patients. While ePrescribing is the direct computer-to-computer transmission of prescription information from GPs to pharmacies, these systems also allow for patient safety features including clinical decision support and the sharing of patient pharmacy data across multiple prescribers.”

These Standards form part of HIQA’s work through its health information function to ensure that high quality health and social care information is available to support the delivery, planning and monitoring of services throughout Ireland.


Further Information: 

Suzanne O’Brien, Communications Manager, Health Information and Quality Authority, 01 814 7488/ 087 624 1216 sobrien@hiqa.ie

Notes to the Editor: 

  • These two Standards were developed through HIQA’s eStandards Advisory Group (eSAG)
  • The benefits of electronic transfer of prescriptions and ePrescribing include:
    • reduction in manual data entry and therefore transcription errors, resulting in reduced risk of a prescribed medicine being given incorrectly to a patient.
    • prescribed medicines descriptions are more accurate and there is improved legibility of prescription details
    • prescriptions are dispensed more quickly through more efficient processes
    • fewer prescriptions having to be returned to the prescriber for correction because they do not comply with legal or subsidy requirements
    • better clinical decision-making, leading to safer and higher quality care, through timely access to selected health information about an individual if the electronic transfer of prescriptions solution is linked to an electronic patient record.
  • Data model for an electronic medicinal product reference catalogue – a National Standarddefines the data model required to support the implementation of an electronic medicinal product reference catalogue. An electronic medicinal product reference catalogue is an electronic dictionary of medications available for prescribing and dispensing. The key aim of the catalogue is to provide a consistent approach to the identification and naming of medicines prescribed and dispensed.
  • ePrescription dataset and clinical document architecture standard  defines an ePrescribing dataset that is used to develop a standard for the exchange of clinical documents based on an international standard known as the Health Level Seven (HL7) Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) standard, an internationally recognised standard that has been implemented in many countries. The ePrescribing CDA standard is then used by software developers to create clinical documents that can be safely exchanged between multiple healthcare providers.
  • In recent years, the Authority has undertaken multiple projects in the area of ePrescribing and the electronic transfer of prescriptions. An international review of ePrescribing and the electronic transfer of prescriptions undertaken by the Authority showed that in six jurisdictions reviewed, electronic transfer of prescriptions has been successfully implemented at a national level between primary care and community pharmacies.
  • [1] Department of Health. eHealth Strategy for Ireland. 2013. Available online