HIQA publishes updated messaging standards that foster the development of eHealth

Date of publication:

HIQA has published an updated electronic health messaging standard which allows GPs to communicate with hospitals in a structured way. The General Practice Messaging Standard, which plays an important role in the development of eHealth, has been updated and builds on a previous standard. It specifies the structure and content of electronic messages for health and social care.

The updated Standard defines new messaging requirements in areas such as sharing of antenatal care records between GPs and hospital clinics, defining the structured clinical information that should be shared between healthcare practitioners about women attending antenatal care appointments. It also defines requirements for radiology ordering, emergency department and outpatient clinic letters and the electronic messaging of certain cardiology results to general practitioners.

It aims to standardise the transmission of these electronic messages between general practices, hospitals and out-of-hours care, making accurate information available in a timelier manner to healthcare practitioners providing patient care, leading to safer better care for patients.

HIQA’s Director of Health Information and Standards Rachel Flynn said: “This Standard addresses the need to standardize information shared between GPs and other health professionals, such as hospital consultants, leading to reduced errors in information flow and better outcomes for patients. It supports improving the flow of information at important times in the care pathway such as referring and discharging patients, and it facilitates shared care among healthcare practitioners”.

Ms Flynn continued: “Safe and reliable health and social care depends on access to and use of information that is accurate, valid, reliable, timely, relevant, legible and complete. Messaging Standards facilitate the sharing of clinical, administrative and patient information in a timely manner ensuring the right information is available to treating healthcare professionals and ensuring that patients get the correct treatment at the appropriate time.”


For further information contact:

Marty Whelan, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement, HIQA, 01 814 7480 / 086 2447 623, mwhelan@hiqa.ie

Notes to the editor

  • The General Practice Messaging Standard Version 4.0 can be found at www.hiqa.ie.
  • The Standard forms 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 of care to patients in a timely manner and in planning and monitoring of services throughout Ireland.
  • Version 1.0 of the General Practice Messaging Standard was published in April 2010 and approved by the Minister for Health and Children in May 2010. Version 2.0 (2011) included new scenarios for clinical settings while Version 3.0 (2014) included scenarios for electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) in the community.
  • The previous version of the Standard and been expanded to include messaging requirements to support:
    • letters from the Outpatients Department and the Emergency Department
    • radiology ordering
    • cardiology results
    • sharing of antenatal care records between GPs and hospital clinics
  • Messaging standards play an important role in the development of eHealth thus supporting the eHealth Strategy (2013) and the Office of the Chief Information Officer’s Information Strategy (2015).
  • HIQA’s eHealth Standards Advisory Group and key stakeholders were consulted during the standards development process.
  • The Standard was developed in line with the international healthcare messaging standards - Health Level 7 version 2.4 standard.