Patients face repeated tests and delays because health workers lack access to electronic medical records, the watchdog warns

Patients are being repeatedly tested and there are delays in care because health workers lack access to electronic medical records, warns a new report published today.

Patients must also have access to their electronic records, the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) report said.

The health watchdog calls for urgent action to provide the right technology, regulation and oversight to enable easy access to health and social care information.

Health and social care professionals do not have easy access to patient health information wherever and whenever they need it, which can lead to repeat testing and delays in care.

Rachel Flynn, Director of Health Information and Standards at Hiqa said: “At present, health information systems, policies and strategies are underdeveloped in Ireland.

“Health and social care professionals cannot easily access patient health information where and when they need it, which can lead to repeat testing and delays in care.

“Ireland needs to develop a common infrastructure and approach for the collection, use and sharing of health information across health and social care.

Urgent action must now be taken to further develop our health information system

“The Irish public has told us that they want access to their health information. There is no system in Ireland that gives citizens access to their electronic records. The European Parliament recently set a target for 100 percent of European Union citizens to have access to their electronic records by 2030.

“Making Ireland’s infrastructure on par with that of other European countries will improve the quality of health information, reduce costs, allow citizens to be more involved in their own care and ensure that care is better coordinated and more efficient.

“Urgent action is now needed to advance our health information system in the four key policy areas of effective engagement; legal framework; governance structures; and technical and operational requirements. Progress is needed in all four areas to foster a modern, future-oriented and data-rich health and social care environment in Ireland. Each of these four areas is interdependent, meaning that failure to address one area could impede or stall progress in the other areas.

The report was presented to Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly.

Ms Flynn said: “We welcome the development of the new general scheme of a Health Information Act, which aims to ensure that Ireland has a fit for purpose national health information system, and hope it takes these policy considerations into account. We look forward to working with the Department of Health to move this forward.”

It pointed to a number of developments in health information policy and legislation at European level which demonstrate the need for significant progress in Ireland.

These include the EU Data Governance Act, which focuses on the re-use of data protected by the public sector, including health data.

It will support the establishment and development of common European data spaces to facilitate data sharing between countries, and will also establish robust mechanisms to facilitate data reuse across the EU.

A recent proposal by the European Parliament and the EU Council outlined the goal for 100 percent of European Union citizens to have access to their electronic records by 2030.

The EU data law aims to encourage data sharing and will establish rules on who can use and access what data for what purposes across all sectors in the EU.

A proposed regulation will provide a legal basis for a European Health Data Space (EHDS) aiming to strengthen and scale up the use and re-use of health data for the purposes of healthcare research and innovation; to support health authorities in making evidence-based decisions; and improve the accessibility, effectiveness and sustainability of health systems.

In 2020 and 2021, Hiqa, the Department of Health and HSE conducted a National Public Engagement for Health Information study, surveying over 1,300 individuals on the collection, use and sharing of health information.

The resulting report found that 97 percent believe it is important for healthcare professionals to have access to their information when providing treatment. And 86pc said they would like to have access to their own digital records through a national patient portal.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/patients-face-repeated-tests-and-delays-because-health-staff-do-not-have-access-to-electronic-medical-records-watchdog-warns-41934699.html Patients face repeated tests and delays because health workers lack access to electronic medical records, the watchdog warns

Fry Electronics Team

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