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Friday, January 17, 2014

Ireland Is Planning To Really Get Rolling With E-Health. Good On Them For Having The Faith!

The following appeared a little while ago.

Ireland plans big e-health investment

6 January 2014   Lyn Whitfield
Ireland is planning to massively increase the amount of money that it spends on healthcare IT as part of a strategy to transform its health services and boost its economy over the next seven years.
An ‘eHealth Strategy for Ireland’, published in December, says national healthcare ICT spending will be “re-aligned” so that it reaches the “EU average of between 2-3%” from the current 0.85%.
The strategy and spending will be overseen by a new body, ‘eHealth Ireland’, which will be headed by a chief information officer to be appointed through open competition.
EHealth Ireland will publish a new IT strategy for health “early” this year, but the eHealth Strategy indicates that this will build on work already underway, or announced at the launch.
It says Ireland will look to create a “standards-based, multi-layered information and technical infrastructure” as a common platform for e-health deployments.
It also says these will use a “national health identifier number for citizens, professionals and organisations”, the enabling legislation for which was published with the strategy.
In addition, it says Ireland will look to create an “’open’, authoritative and internationally linked collaborative innovation ‘ecosystem’” of the type established in Catalonia and Finland to secure innovation and capture the economic benefits of e-health; which the strategy argues could add 2%-2.9% to GDP.
Specific priority projects are likely to include e-prescribing, online referrals and scheduling, telehealth for the management of chronic conditions, patient summary care records, online access to health information, and a national patient portal.
Launching the strategy, Dr James Reilly, Ireland’s health minister, said it will “put Ireland in a position to fully exploit all of the many benefits that today’s information and communication technology has to offer in modernising the way we treat patients.
“I firmly believe that Ireland’s extensive IT and healthcare industry sectors make us very well placed to exploit e-health, not just to radically improve our own health services, but as an emerging area within the wider ICT industry that will have a significant role to play in achieving this government’s targets for jobs and economic growth,” he added.
The strategy does not put a figure on the target spending, but the annual budget of the Health Service Executive, which is responsible for both health and personal social services in Ireland, is around €13 billion; implying that it could be in the region of £250m - £400m.
EHI Intelligence calculates that the NHS spends around £1 billion a year on healthcare IT, or around 1.1% of the NHS’ approximately £110 billion budget.
For its money, the HSE hopes to secure wide-ranging reform of the health and social care system, which is facing similar challenges to the NHS in terms of coping with an increasingly elderly population, living with a growing burden of chronic disease, while adopting complex and costly medical advances.
A major re-organisation of the health and social care system and reforms of Ireland’s healthcare funding systems are already underway.
Lots more here:
There is a link in the article text to the 80 page .pdf file.
The document turns out not to be an actual plan but rather more a statement of intent to get things rolling and to pretty dramatically increase investment.
There will be a new entity ‘e-health Ireland” created which will be responsible and who will do the detailed implementation plans, procurements etc. A single body, properly led, sounds like a good idea but it would not be so good if it turns out like NEHTA.
The writers of the strategy have been very sensible in keeping both costs and benefits very vague until they have some momentum established.
Again we have a glossy e-Health plan which seems to realise - from their comments on international experiences - that e-Health is both difficult and likely to take longer and cost more than initially suspected.
A plan to do a proper plan I would suggest. I do hope they get the clinicians involved starting now!

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