Public support for sharing of health information confirmed

Date of publication:

The results of a new opinion poll published today by the Health Information and Quality Authority have revealed that most people in Ireland (86%) believe that their health information should be linked up across the health system. 

The poll, conducted by Red C Research and Marketing, focused on people’s views on the use of their personal health information to improve patient safety and care, and further revealed that the majority of people (96%) believed that the same number should be used to identify health information across healthcare settings.

“These findings are to be welcomed as they are a key step towards improving patient safety and care in Ireland. This is both positive and important for the further development of health information policy, which is an essential area of work for the Authority” said Professor Jane Grimson, Director of Health Information with the Authority.

Findings were particularly positive in emergency situations with 94% of people stating that their personal health information should be shared in such cases. Importantly however, this positive view on the sharing of personal health information remained in other situations, including with healthcare planners, where the health benefit is to the whole community rather than to the individual.

Interestingly, the poll also showed that people believed it is currently the case that health information is shared across the system, with three-quarters of people indicating their belief that, in most circumstances, the hospital does contact their GP with important information when they are discharged.

“Our poll indicates that people are very comfortable with the sharing of health information across a range of situations and in fact believe this is currently the case” said Professor Grimson “These results indicate that more should be done to effectively link health information across healthcare settings” she concluded.

In relation to people being able to access personal health information, almost all surveyed (96%) said they had the right to be informed of who has access to their information.

These findings, which were presented by Professor Grimson today at the annual Healthcare Informatics Society of Ireland conference, will be utilised by the Authority in the upcoming debate on the Health Information Bill and more broadly in its work on improving patient safety.



Further Information: 

For a full copy of the poll findings, or for further information, please contact Marty Whelan, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement

01 8047651 / 086 2447623

Notes to the Editor: 

Notes to the Editor:

  1. This omnibus poll was conducted by Red C who interviewed a random nationally representative sample of 1002 adults aged 18+ by telephone between the 20th & 22nd October 2008. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results weighted to the profile of all adults.
  2. Summary of key results
    • 86% thought health information should be linked up across settings to improve patient safety and care.
    • 96% thought GPs and the hospital should use the same number to identify health information.
    • The majority of people (86%) felt that medical information from different sources should be linked-up to improve patient safety and care, with those in older age groups even more likely to agree (91%).
    • 94% stated that their personal medical records should be accessed by medical professionals if picked up by ambulance in a life threatening situation. The percentage remains the same across each of the demographic groups and shows a universal desire for this to be the case.
    • 96% said they had the right to be informed of who has access to their health information.
  3. The Health Information and Quality Authority is the independent Authority which has been established to drive continuous improvement in Ireland’s health and social care services. The Authority was established as part of the Government’s overall Health Service Reform Programme. The Authority’s mandate extends across the quality and safety of the public, private (within its social care function) and voluntary sectors.