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Experts to advise on new identifier policy

01 Nov 2013

By Gary Culliton.

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 patient identifier policy.

Preparation of the general scheme of a Health Identifiers Bill, which will give effect to 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 organisations. Provisions in relation to health service identifiers were originally envisaged as part of the Health Information Bill. The system of identifiers is necessary to strengthen patient safety, privacy, wider regulation and to facilitate audit, the Minister for Health Dr James Reilly said in response to Joint Oireachtas Health Committee questioning by Deputy Jerry Buttimer.

The patient identifier, to be known as the Individual Health Identifier, will leverage as much as possible the existing Public Service Card infrastructure.

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. Cost and benefit estimation is continuing 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, running costs (including staffing) for the central register, necessary technical changes in health service provider organisation (for example, hospitals and GP practices) and change management costs.

Consultation with the Data Protection Commissioner is occurring to ensure that roll-out and implementation are in line with data protection standards.

1 November 2013

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times