Ireland to Digitize Healthcare Information Under New Bill

A new bill aimed at modernising and digitising healthcare information in Ireland will be presented to Cabinet today by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. The Health Information Bill seeks to address the current system, which has been described as “incoherent and unco-ordinated,” and align it with European regulations.

The Department of Health has stated that the bill will be “transformative for patients and health professionals alike” by integrating patient information from the public, private, and voluntary sectors. This will address the reluctance of some organisations to share information, previously flagged as an information “black hole.”

Key features of the bill include giving patients greater access and control over their medical data and allowing health professionals to have a more comprehensive overview of a patient’s health. An individual’s PPSN will be used as their unique health identifier. The population-based data will also assist the HSE in planning and managing core functions and services.

In related news, under the HSE Urgent and Emergency Operational Plan for 2024, emergency department overcrowding has decreased by 14% in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2023, despite a 10% increase in patient visits. Significant reductions in trolley counts were noted in several hospitals.

Additionally, Ministers Darragh O’Brien and Malcolm Noonan will update the Cabinet on the Hen Harrier Threat Response Plan 2024-2028. This plan aims to improve the long-term prospects of the endangered bird, with only 85 to 106 breeding pairs remaining in the Republic.

Sports Minister Catherine Martin will present the National Swimming Strategy, which aims to provide access to swimming facilities for everyone in Ireland. The strategy includes over 50 actions covering both indoor and outdoor swimming for all ages and abilities.

Enterprise Minister Peter Burke will report on the Increased Cost of Business grant (ICOB), noting that more than 83% of approved grants have been paid out, with over €120 million distributed to over 60,000 businesses. This comes after local authorities were urged to expedite payments earlier this year.

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