A&Es to go digital to allow sharing of key patient data

Every emergency department (ED) in Ireland is to go digital in a move that will make the units ‘paper-lite’ and identify bottlenecks in the system.

The Department of Health is working on a project called the Emergency Department Information System (EDIS).

The project will create a real-time information system on the 1.2m people who visit EDs in Ireland every year.

At the moment, there is no unified system in place where our 29 EDs can gather information, track patients and share the statistics.

While some EDs record patient information digitally on their own individual systems, others still rely on ledgers.

The EDIS, for the first time, will allow Ireland to have quantifiable national data from its hospitals’ emergency departments.

“With improved ICT [information and communications technology] systems, hospitals will be able to more accurately track the patient journey, identifying bottlenecks and thus reducing ED overcrowding and trolley waits,” said a Department of Health spokesman.

“It is vital that our health system has accurate, appropriate and real-time information on the 1.2m ED attendances annually. Improved ICT [information and communications technology] systems, tailored to the needs of each Hospital, are essential to the provision of efficient and high quality care for patients who attend as unscheduled care patients.”

The Department of Health said it will need to put a framework agreement together first, with a number of software providers, due to the variations in the country’s hospital group.

Meanwhile, the HSE is working on an updated business case to submit to the Department of Public Expenditure, which will sanction the spend on the project. The project will then be put out to tender, once it has final approval.

Emergency Medicine consultant Jim Gray, of Tallaght Hospital, welcomed the news. “This is a positive thing, it improves the ability to manage data and to identify weaknesses,” he said.

Dr Gray said that at the moment it is hard to get “quantifiable national data” from our country’s EDs.

“This should not be happening in a 21st century health system,” said Dr Gray.


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