The Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) has launched a framework setting out how to digitally transform health services in the country, including plans to roll out a patient app and national shared care record.

Digital for Care: A Digital Health Framework for Ireland 2024-2030’, published on 21 May 2024, announces plan to launch a patient app to “empower patients by giving them broader access to their own health information” adding that it will “provide access to more digital health services, including virtual care offerings, whilst enabling greater autonomy and choice over their care options”.

The app is planned to allow patients to view their health data including appointments, prescriptions, test results, and scans.

It will also include digital credentials such as a digital version of the European health insurance card medical card, GP visit card, a MyHealthID, proof of vaccination such as the digital covid certificate, and the seasonal flu vaccine.

The digital framework also highlights plans to complete procurement for the technology platform to deliver a national shared care record in 2025, followed by longer term deployment of electronic health records (EHR).

In a statement published on 21 May 2024, Stephen Donnelly, Ireland’s minister for health, said that the new digital framework “sets out a clear ambition for the future”.

He added: “Through successive budgets, government has consistently increased both capital and revenue funding for digital health.

“The health service now has an ambitious forward-looking digital pipeline to deliver on the vision of this strategic framework.”

A spokesperson for the HSE, which provides public health and social care services to everyone living in Ireland, told Digital Health News that a tender for the shared care record is ongoing and will conclude in the final quarter of 2024.

“EHR will replace paper-based health records with a comprehensive medical record in electronic form.

“This represents a complete digital record of a patient’s journey, throughout their life, across all health and social care settings, for every citizen.

“The deployment of EHR for everyone using health services in Ireland is a long-term investment programme with systems to be deployed by each of the six new health regions across the acute, community, and primary care health settings,” the spokesperson said. 

They added that EHRs have already been approved and deployed at four maternity hospitals: Cork University Maternity Hospital, Kerry University Hospital, National Maternity Hospital, and Rotunda, and at St. James Hospital Dublin, the National Forensic Mental Health Service (formerly Central Mental Hospital), and the National Rehabilitation Hospital.

Also, the said that EHRs are currently being implemented at University Hospital Limerick and Coombe, which are due to go live Q1 2025 and Q2 2025.

The framework says that “in parallel with the national shared care record, we must continue to invest in core clinical information systems and accelerate investment in the large enterprise EHR systems, similar to those already deployed at St James Hospital, at our large maternity hospitals and procured for the new National Children’s Hospital”.

Other planned digital initiatives outlined in the framework include scaling the use of virtual care initiatives as a viable clinical intervention, widening the use of robotic process automation to the management of waiting lists, and commencing procurement of a solution for national electronic prescribing.

The HSE has also pledged to continue to build cyber resilience through the implementation of recommendations of the post incident report following a ransomware attack in 2021.

In 2023, HSE was victim of the MOVEit supply chain cyber attack launched against document transfer service MOVEit.