Majority happy for health information to be shared electronically

However, consent and security issues must be addressed

Deborah Condon

September 23, 2021

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  • Most people in Ireland are happy for information about their health to be collected, used and shared electronically, a new survey by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has found.

    However, people also want to be kept informed about who is using their health information and why.

    The survey of 1,300 people was carried out in partnership with the Department of Health and the HSE. It found that 97% of people believe it is important for healthcare professionals  to have access to their information when treating them.

    Furthermore, 99% think it is important that healthcare professionals have access to their digital care record if they are unconscious at the time of treatment.

    However, people also said that they would like to be informed about what information will be shared between their GP and hospital, who will use their information and for what purpose.

    Some would also like to know who has accessed their record, while 86% would like to have access to their own digital records via a national patient portal.

    According to HIQA’s director of health information and standards, Rachel Flynn, these findings “show that a move towards a digital healthcare system is welcomed”.

    “People see the value of sharing health information electronically and of healthcare professionals having quicker access to a patient’s records. However, in the aftermath of the cyber attack on HSE systems, it is more important than ever that the public is assured about the security of patient information,” she commented.

    She said that it is also “essential” that patients are properly informed about any use of their information.

    “HIQA will use these findings to develop national recommendations for the Minister for Health on a model for the collection, use and sharing of personal health information. This will ensure that people’s personal health information is kept safe and that their rights to privacy and confidentiality are upheld,” Ms Flynn explained.

    Commenting on the findings, the CEO of the HSE, Paul Reid, said that they indicate that people “understand, value and trust the importance of timely health information supporting safe and efficient health and social care decisions”.

    “People trust healthcare professionals with their data and understand how their health information can lead to appropriate and timely direct patient care,” he noted.

    The full report on HIQA’s survey and findings can be viewed here.

    © Medmedia Publications/MedMedia News 2021