Tuesday, July 16, 2024

New Standards for Health Information Management Released by HIQA

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The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published new national standards aimed at significantly improving the management of health information across Ireland’s health and social care services. These newly established standards, known as the National Standards for Information Management in Health and Social Care, were meticulously developed by HIQA and have received formal approval from the Minister for Health.

The release of these standards aligns with a period of substantial policy advancements in health information at both national and European levels. Among these developments are the forthcoming European Health Data Space regulation and the Health Information Bill, which aim to revolutionize the management and use of health data across the continent. Additionally, these standards will play a critical role in supporting the Department of Health’s recently unveiled strategy, Digital for Care: A Digital Health Framework for Ireland 2024-2030. This framework outlines a comprehensive plan to leverage digital technologies to enhance healthcare delivery and outcomes in Ireland over the next several years.

Foundation of Quality Care

Rachel Flynn, HIQA’s Director of Health Information and Standards, highlighted the pivotal role of high-quality health information, emphasizing that it forms the bedrock of a high-quality and safe health and social care system. Flynn elaborated that these standards are designed to drive safer and better care by offering a structured roadmap for organizations and services to enhance their management of health and social care information. This initiative aims to ensure that information is managed in a way that is not only efficient and effective but also safeguards the rights and privacy of individuals.

Flynn underscored the necessity for all healthcare organizations to establish and maintain appropriate structures, systems, policies, and procedures for robust information management. This approach is essential to facilitating timely, evidence-based decision-making processes, which can significantly reduce waste, improve overall service efficiency, and ultimately enhance the safety and quality of care provided to patients. By adhering to these standards, healthcare providers can ensure that their operations are aligned with best practices in information management.

Promoting Safe and Reliable Care

The implementation of these national standards is expected to contribute substantially to the delivery of safe and reliable care for all individuals. By adopting a human rights-based approach to information management, services and organizations can effectively engage with individuals, groups, and communities about how their information is managed. This approach ensures that privacy is respected and promotes equity in the use and sharing of health information.

Insights from the first National Public Engagement on Health Information conducted in 2021 revealed a high level of public support for the electronic collection, use, and sharing of health information, provided that proper safeguards are in place. The new standards are designed to offer a robust framework to assure the public that their health information is being managed appropriately, fostering trust and confidence in the healthcare system.

Health Information

Supporting Health Information Organizations

To assist organizations in meeting these new standards, HIQA has also published three comprehensive guidance documents. These resources, alongside the national standards, are intended to drive continuous improvements across the health information system by clearly outlining the expectations for services managing data and information. As Ireland advances its system-wide transition to digital health, these guidelines will be invaluable in ensuring that the management of health information meets the highest standards of quality and security.

Flynn emphasized the critical need for a system-wide approach to ensure that all healthcare organizations implement arrangements that guarantee high-quality, confidential data management. This is integral to achieving the Sláintecare vision of a universal health service that delivers the right care in the right place at the right time. Proper information management practices are also essential for providing assurances about the quality of major national data repositories, which are used to monitor diseases, manage services, inform policy-making, conduct research, and plan for future health and social care needs.

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Good information management practices are vital for ensuring the quality and reliability of national data repositories. These repositories play a crucial role in monitoring public health trends, managing healthcare services, informing policy decisions, conducting critical research, and planning for the future needs of Ireland’s health and social care systems. By adhering to the new standards, healthcare organizations can ensure that these repositories are accurate, secure, and capable of supporting a wide range of health-related activities.

 

Resource: Health Information and Quality Authority, June 27, 2024

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