Question to the Minister for Health (Dr. Leo Varadkar, TD)

To ask the Minister for Health if he will provide an update on his plans to issue the first individual health identifiers and increase investment in information and communications technology and in eHealth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer

For WRITTEN ANSWER on Wednesday, 25 February 2015


As the Deputy is aware, I recently announced priority areas for action in 2015 including one which is to modernise the HSE ICT infrastructure. Two significant areas in that regard are to issue the first health identifiers and to increase investment in ICT and eHealth generally. In late 2013 the Government published its eHealth strategy, An eHealth strategy for Ireland, along with the Health Identifiers Bill which was enacted in 2014. Other foundation steps in support of this work included setting up the Office of the Chief Information Office/Chief Officer for eHealth Ireland in the HSE. The HSEICT strategy is expected to be finalised in late March and will set out the priority areas for development, investment and modernisation of ICT for the health services. A number of critical areas which will require significant investment over the coming years are emerging, including the new National Children’s Hospital, an enterprise financial management system to underpin the HSE’s new Financial Operating Model, eReferrals and other initiatives to support the acute and primary care sectors.


The roll out of a system of health identifiers will also be a key priority for 2015. The new identifier registers will be managed and operated by the HSE. The Act provides for the establishment of a system of individual, professional and organisational identifiers. The individual health identifier will be the initial focus of implementation. HSE is currently finalising a project for the initial stages of the roll out and engagement with key stakeholders is under way. It is my intention to commence the relevant parts of the legislation to support the initial roll out in primary care in the coming months. The principal benefits of health identifiers will be improvements in patient safety. Health identifiers will also underpin the wider eHealth agenda and facilitate improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of our health services and benefits in terms of the customer experience. The use of health identifiers will also contribute to maintaining the confidentiality and security of sensitive patient data within health care in both the public and private environment.