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‘Vital signs automation’ should be introduced before EHR – HSE official

The HSE’s Director of Digital Transformation and Open Innovation Mr Martin Curley has said “vital signs automation” should be introduced to Irish hospital wards before an electronic health record (EHR) is rolled-out.

Mr Curley, who was HSE Chief Information Officer until the end of last year, was speaking to the Medical Independent (MI) following his speech last month at the Health Informatics Society of Ireland annual conference at Croke Park, Dublin.

“I think the problem is that EHR hasn’t been delivered and it’s late,” Mr Curley told MI.

“So personally, what I would say we need to do first, before we do EHR, is vital signs automation. Currently there is €800 million slated for EHR. We could take a fraction of that and automate our wards first so they would be way safer, that is the first thing I would do. Basically [it means] automating vital signs collection such as automated blood pressure monitoring, pulse rate, etc.”

Mr Curley said this automation of wards could be done “shy” of the introduction of EHR. “It could be done first; in fact, it should be done first,” he commented. 

“Because it would be a much safer scenario where blood pressure, blood oxygen level and so on, are automatically recorded, and there is a central monitor in the nurses’ station that can immediately tell if a particular patient is starting to deteriorate.”

Mr Curley also told MI that he and the HSE are looking into potentially using ‘open source systems’ for EHR.

He said such a system is being looked at in Scotland and he did not have data protection concerns with open source systems.

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