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Recommendations on the ICT enablement of older persons services

Status: Published on
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Following the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on older persons services in Ireland, the COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel called for the introduction of an integrated IT system to support the effective sharing of health information, the management of services, and the provision of alternate capacity.

While the HSE is developing systems with the capabilities that the Expert Panel requires, in practice these systems will need to be made available to, and adopted by, staff in a broad range of settings, services, and roles across the full sector – both public and private. The systems will also need to be interoperable with national eHealth solutions in the long term. Therefore, HIQA has worked with stakeholders across health and social care, and ICT, to develop strategic recommendations in these areas. The recommendations were informed by a review of progress made internationally on ICT enablement of services. The successful ICT enablement of health and social care services for older persons (and for all populations) will require measures in four areas:

  • Strategy and governance: First and foremost, a national health information strategy, with identified priorities and associated funding, is needed to provide strategic direction across the entire health information system. A clear overall strategy for ICT enablement of older persons services is also needed, to ensure that the capabilities outlined by the Expert Panel are delivered. This should be developed by the appropriate governance structure(s).
  • Vision and roadmap: A shared vision must be developed, in collaboration with all stakeholders, with older persons being a critical stakeholder group. It is essential that stakeholders are fully engaged throughout the lifecycle of the programme, to ensure acceptance and adoption.
  • Standardised sharing of information: A suite of national standards are fundamental for the effective sharing of information and should include minimum datasets that are based on the actual needs of users. This will support the safe and effective sharing of appropriate information along the older person’s care journey, with those authorised to provide care having the information they need when they need it.
  • User engagement: Finally, all systems should meet basic user-centred principles and that users have the targeted training and broader digital education they need, such as through broad national initiatives. This will ensure that users have confidence in, and are ready to adopt, the systems that are developed — a critical point of failure in some eHealth projects.

These recommendations have been submitted to the Minister for Health.