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National public engagement survey on the future of health information in Ireland commences

A National Public Engagement Survey on Health Information is underway to ask the public their views on how their health information should be collected, used and shared. 

The survey is being run by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), in partnership with the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE). It is part of a series of initiatives designed to ascertain the views of the general public to help develop recommendations for the Minister for Health.

The survey will ask 1,200 members of the public for their feedback on how their personal health information is collected, used and shared by health and social care services in Ireland and their opinions on the use of digital technologies in this area. The survey findings will be used to make improvements to health information; ensuring it is kept safe, and people’s rights to privacy are upheld.

A key priority of Ireland’s 10-year healthcare plan, Sláintecare is the development of an integrated health and social care system supported by eHealth and digital technologies, such as the National Electronic Patient Summary and the National Patient Portal. The survey will provide an understanding of the public’s opinion on such technologies and is an important step towards the delivery of Sláintecare.

Ms Rachel Flynn, HIQA’s Director of Health Information and Standards, said: “At present, Irish healthcare services operate using a mostly paper-based system, with some electronic healthcare records in place. The advancement of electronic sharing of a person’s health information between different healthcare services has the potential to make healthcare safer and more efficient by enabling more integrated care and better communication between healthcare professionals.

“HIQA is developing a set of recommendations for the Minister for Health on how health information is collected, used and shared in Ireland, to enable more integrated care. We want to understand what Irish people expect in relation to how their information is held, who can see it and what it is used for, so that we can develop a model that improves patient safety while also addressing any challenges.”

Mr Niall Sinnott, the Department of Health’s Head of eHealth and Health Information Systems, said: “The Department of Health look forward to receiving the results of this survey which will inform future health information strategy, policy and eHealth decisions.” 

Mr Patrick Lynch, National Director QAV HSE: “During our lifetimes, each of us will at some stage be a patient or will be a user of our health and social care services. We will expect excellent care, placing our trust in professionals to improve our health or provide a service that will support us in living fulfilled lives. This survey is an important part of that overall care, and in line with empowering and engaging our patients by ensuring a patient-centred approach. The HSE is continuously striving to further enhance our patient partnership  in designing, delivering and improving care.”

The survey will take place between October and December this year, interviewing  people aged 18 and over living in Ireland, by telephone, to gain a broad representative sample of the population’s views. The survey is part of a wider series of public engagement initiatives being undertaken to give the public a platform to voice their opinions on this topic and have a meaningful impact on the future of health information in Ireland.

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