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Concerns about structure of e-health in HSE

The division of HSE e-health responsibility between the offices of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and the Director of Digital Transformation and Open Innovation risks the creation of “silo thinking” and “the environment for a ‘turf war’ to emerge”, former HSE CIO Mr Richard Corbridge has told the Medical Independent (MI).

He urged for a review to ensure a “single leader of digital in post for the whole healthcare system”. Mr Corbridge, who was the HSE’s first CIO, left the position in 2017 after three years to pursue opportunities in the UK. 

Mr Corbridge, who speaks positively about his experience as CIO, also considers that the HSE’s business case for a national electronic health record (EHR) “has not been delivered and therefore is now out of date”. The business case was developed when he was CIO.

The role of HSE Director of Digital Transformation and Open Innovation was created last year and is filled by former HSE CIO Mr Martin Curley. The interim HSE CIO is Mr Fran Thompson.

A HSE spokesperson told MI: “The Office of the Chief Information Officer (OoCIO) is committed to realising the e-health Ireland strategy by ensuring that information and technology support healthcare efficiently and effectively throughout the whole health service.”

Asked in what ways the OoCIO and Mr Curley’s office work together, the spokesperson said “they are broadly complementary but in very different areas”.

As of November 2019, there were 320 staff (WTE) working in the OoCIO and its budget for last year was €49.2 million. This year, the budget has increased to €51.3 million.

Asked about staffing in Mr Curley’s office, the spokesperson said: “[Mr] Curley is leading out on digital transformation agenda items, including the initiation of a Digital Masters Programme and is currently supported by two staff members.”

In 2016, the HSE finalised an EHR business case, which was submitted to the Department of Health.

“The Department has not approved the business [case] in its current form because of concerns raised regarding the scope, cost and proposed procurement approach,” said a Department spokesperson.  “The HSE has been tasked with revising the business case to address these issues and we have jointly agreed a way forward for sites affected by delays associated with revising the business case.”

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