Richard Corbridge is looking forward to taking on his new role at one of the largest trusts in the UK – but equally, he would have liked to see through one of the most significant and fundamental changes in the Irish healthcare system – the implementation of its electronic health record.

In August this year, Corbridge announced his resignation as chief information officer of the Irish Health Service Executive to take up a new role as chief digital and information officer of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Speaking to Digital Health News at the second and his final eHealth Ireland 2030 event in Dublin, Corbridge said the decision to leave the HSE and hang up his HSE CIO hat was very much based on the opportunity in Leeds

“You can create strategies, begin the implementation journey and decide how to go and I think Ireland is now ready to invest in a full electronic health record … do I stay for next five years to implement that or do I move on to let somebody else do that?”

Back in 2016, Ireland announced plans to spend up to €875 (£700m) on building an electronic health record over the next five to nine years.

The aim – to implement a national EHR, made up of four key parts; an acute EPR; a community EPR; an integration platform; and a national shared record provided via a portal.

“The electronic health record has been approved by the HSE… now it is with government for decision… it would have been good knowing that was now approved by the government.”

Since 2014, Corbridge, also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for eHealth Ireland, has been a high-profile leader for the digitisation of Ireland’s health service. His achievements include helping create one national team that delivers healthcare technology and digital change across the whole of the Irish healthcare system.

“In three years we have gone from local separate teams, to one national team…I’m sad to not see that move to the next level –  we have gone from a team that was quite despondent, non-enthusiastic and quite scared of what happens next, to a team that is unbelievably enthused.”

It is a structure he is proud of too – “The team has put the concept of digital healthcare on the map in terms of what can happen in Ireland”, Corbridge said.

He will part ways with the HSE in November this year before taking up the role as CDIO of Leeds Teaching Hospital where he hopes to continue to build on the cities reputation being a pioneer of integrating health and care.

“Leeds has its own digital fabric, its own solution that’s its built and deployed. We need to look at how we turn that into a solution for the whole trust, to make sure we have got a digital solution for a way forward for the next decade”, Corbridge said.

The new role at Leeds entails taking leadership of a trust which has had a challenging and fraught recent history on IT with severe recent infrastructure problems – it took months for it to recover from a catastrophic network failure that left staff without access to pathology systems.

On that, Corbridge said there’s decisions and investment cases that need to be made, about what to invest in, where to invest and what can be best done in partnership with another organisation.

“That is the first big focus, then we need to work with board members, clinicians and IT teams to understand what needs to be done in what priority. And then put in a team to get on and do that.”

Regardless of what’s ahead, Corbridge said: “I’m really excited, I can’t wait. It’s good to be coming back to Leeds.”