HIQA calls on Govt to future-proof hospitals and move them away from paper-based records

Hospitals need to make better use of new technology to reduce clinical errors, according to the health watchdog.

HIQA has made a submission to a Department of Health consultation criticising Ireland as one of the last developed countries to harness the technologies available.

They say the health service needs to be future-proofed with a move away from paper-based records.

HIQA have highlighted inconsistencies in recording maternal sepsis, uncovered after the death of Savita Halappanavar, as one of the results of an antiquated paper-based system.

Rachel Flynn, HIQA's Director of Health Information and Standards, said: "For example, the 2013 report of the patient safety investigation into the death of Savita Halappanavar noted that there were significant inconsistencies in the recording and reporting of maternal sepsis.

"Furthermore, one of the eight recommendations made in the 2015 report into the safety of services in Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, focused specifically on deficiencies in health information.

"It is clear that we need to move away from our paper-based system and avail of new technology to improve the quality and reliability of health data, and in doing so, improve our health and social care services. Ireland is one of the last developed countries to harness the technology currently available."

She said that other countries that are investing in eHealth realise that it can "significantly reduce clinical errors, improve patient safety and create efficiencies."

She said: "Ireland needs to move in the same direction, and fast.

"Ireland needs to develop strong health information policies and legislation to advance the eHealth agenda and to support, for example, the introduction of electronic health records.

"Ireland’s health information landscape is currently highly fragmented and legislation is vital to ensure that valuable information is accessed, shared and governed appropriately and that an individual’s personal health information is protected."

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