Public's views are sought on electronic patient information

There can be times when a patient is unconscious or cannot remember what medication they are taking
Public's views are sought on electronic patient information

The summaries will help healthcare staff to treat patients with specific needs such as those with intellectual difficulties, cognitive impairments or complex conditions as well as those on numerous medications. Picture: Pexels

Ireland’s healthcare watchdog wants the public to help in the rolling out of a national electronic patient summary.

The Health Information and Quality Authority says the summary can considerably improve patient care by providing the most accurate, relevant and up-to-date clinical information.

An electronic patient summary is not an entire medical record; it is the relevant set of information needed to treat a patient in unplanned care. It is the minimum patient information needed by treating clinicians to make more informed decisions.

There can be times when a patient is unconscious or cannot remember what medication they are taking. In such cases, the summary will provide information on health problems, medications, allergies, procedures and vaccinations.

The summaries will help healthcare staff to treat patients with specific needs such as those with intellectual difficulties, cognitive impairments or complex conditions as well as those on numerous medications.

The Sláintecare implementation strategy, published two years ago, prioritises the implementation of patient summary care records to support information sharing, patient empowerment and the development of digital services. It also forms part of Ireland’s national eHealth strategy.

Hiqa says the implementation of the strategy that will help improve patient safety will support information sharing, patient empowerment and the development of digital services. Ultimately, the patient will have access to the electronic summary.

The authority has developed 15 draft recommendations for the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, on the successful implementation of a national electronic summary and is now asking the public for their feedback.

Hiqa’s technical standards manager, Dr Kevin O’Carroll, says the consultation is a key milestone in preparations.

Feedback from stakeholders on how to implement a patient summary is vital and important to this programme’s success.

“We are asking the public for their input on our recommendations, and look forward to hearing from professionals, organisations, and the general public, in particular patients and their carers," he says.

Dr O’Carroll says people will be asked about the governance structure needed to provide oversight, and how patient and public representation can be built into that structure.

It is envisaged that a patient's GP will source and upload the information for the summary. Initially, it will only be available in a read-only format to health care providers in the community and acute care setting.

In the future, it may be possible to integrate the patient summary with other eHealth systems such as a national electronic health record.

The patient summary can be updated by a treating clinician in an out-of-hours or emergency department and integrated into a hospital-wide electronic health record.

The public consultation is a follow-on to the national standard on information requirements for a national electronic patient summary published in January 2019.

Hiqa wants public feedback on the draft recommendations to be submitted before the deadline of 5 pm on Friday, September 11.

More in this section