In the information society there is an increasing awareness of the value of personal information. However, personal information must be managed properly in order to protect those whose information it is, and in order to maximise the potential benefits to be obtained from the collection and utilisation of such information(1). As a result, the development of national standards and guidelines for health information governance (IG) is at the forefront of the Irish health information agenda.
The objective of the current Health Service Reform Programme1 is to deliver better patient care and safety. This means using information – in manual and electronic forms- more effectively than previously to improve healthcare outcomes while ensuring that an individual’s control over his or her personal health information is appropriately respected. This requires an examination of how the information is used, the areas where it could be better used and the safeguards needed to ensure appropriate protection(2).