17 October 2013
Question (Deputy Jerry Buttimer)
To ask the Minister for Health and the HSE what efforts have been made to implement the HIQA recommendation to implement a unique patient identifier reference, if further improvements in ICT infrastructure is required to implement such a proposal and if there has been an analysis of the cost of such a system and the future savings which could be achieved.
Preparation of the general scheme of a Health Identifiers Bill which will to give effect the HIQA recommendations to implement a unique patient identifier was approved by the Government in July and work is currently at an advanced stage. A commitment has been given to early publication. The Bill will provide for a system of identifiers for patients, professionals and organisation. Provisions in relation to health service identifiers were originally envisaged as part of the Health Information Bill. The system of identifiers are necessary to strengthen patient safety, privacy, wider regulation and to facilitate audit.
The patient identifier to be known as the Individual Health Identifier will leverage as much as possible the existing Public Service Card infrastructure.
An expert working group, made up of representatives of the Department of Health, Department of Social Protection, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, HSE and HIQA has been established to advise on identifier policy.
It is currently planned that, insofar as possible, existing ICT infrastructure and resources will be used to host the core databases underpinning the patient identifier. Costs and benefits estimation is on-going and will be refined during the drafting process. It is anticipated that the costs will be made up of a number of elements including central systems infrastructure and linkage to the Department of Social Protection, ongoing running costs (including staffing) for the central register, necessary technical changes in health service provider organisation (e.g. hospitals and GP practices) and change management costs. Consultation with the Data Protection Commissioner is ongoing to ensure that rollout and implementation is in line with the highest data protection standards.