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Ireland Digital Health

Ireland is reshaping its healthcare provision with technology and digital solutions being deployed more quickly as barriers are coming down.  The arrival of a new Director General at Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) in mid-2019 has seen an increased emphasis on eHealth and digital strategies.  The HSE’s 2020 National Service Plan included an ICT budget of circa $100 million.  This is forecast to grow to $120 million in 2021.  

eHealth Ireland is leading the delivery of Ireland’s eHealth Strategy. Initiated in 2013, the strategy recognizes the importance of ICT and Digital Health as a national infra-structural investment for Ireland.  It was augmented, in 2015, by the Knowledge and Information Strategy which laid out the vision for how technology will support the rollout of eHealth in Ireland.  

Seven key initiatives including National Health Identifier Infrastructure, ePrescribing and eReferrals, tele-healthcare services with a focus on chronic illness, and the development of a national Electronic Health Record (EHR) were agreed as a priority for eHealth Ireland. One recent milestone is the Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 that allows for the electronic transfer prescriptions to pharmacies via the HSE’s Healthmail electronic system. Prior to this, a paper copy of a prescription had to be given to a pharmacy.

The adoption of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Tele-medicine; the use of machine learning / predictive analysis and the delivery of healthcare services over digital platforms/apps will become more prevalent. There is a determination to accelerate  implementation of the overall reform program with eHealth enabled capabilities and create a more integrated, more efficient and truly patient-centric healthcare service that also addresses  challenges around  equality of access and opportunity, and supporting patients and clinicians to optimise the digital technologies.
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