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IPU welcomes Government digital health framework

By Irish Pharmacist - 04th Jul 2024

digital health framework

The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has welcomed the Digital Health Framework for Ireland 2024-2030 launched recently. This new framework is a critical step forward in addressing Ireland’s outdated technologies and the inefficiencies that have long impacted our health system, said the Union. The organisation highlighted in particular the dot matrix printers currently used across our health systems which need to be urgently relegated into the past.

The 2013 eHealth Strategy for Ireland laid the foundation for significant advancements in digital healthcare. Over the past decade, community pharmacies have embraced new technologies, ensuring patients continue to receive timely and accurate care. Progress, however, has been significantly hindered by a lack of interoperable HSE systems, resulting in significant administrative burdens for community pharmacists and other healthcare providers.

“Since the introduction of Healthmail, for instance, we must now print an average of 78 million pieces of paper annually, the cost and time of which has been foisted upon pharmacies. We cannot wait any longer for basic IT initiatives to address this problem,” said the IPU.

Speaking at the IPU National Pharmacy Conference in April, Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Health, acknowledged these challenges by highlighting that red tape and bureaucracy has got out of control.

He said: It is simply not acceptable to have all of you having to do the level of paperwork, the level of repetition that is required. It gets discussed as probity and good clinical governance. And of course we need good clinical governance. But there is a lot of that that has just built up. It is just bureaucratic creep. And rather than redesigning a process, you know, everything, new thing that needs to happen, just more and more red tape, more and more paperwork gets added. The dot matrix printers are still there.

“So, I am going to direct my department and the HSE to immediately commence a process of reviewing all of that paperwork, all of that bureaucracy in the round with a view to substantially reducing it and getting rid of the dot matrix printers.”

Noel Stenson, Chair of the IPU IT Steering Group, expressed support for the new framework: “The Digital Health Framework 2024-2030 marks an important moment for healthcare in Ireland. By integrating community pharmacies into the national digital health infrastructure, we can significantly enhance patient care and safety, by moving from resource hungry manual processes, and freeing time for valuable patient interactions. The framework’s emphasis on expanding ePharmacy services and patient engagement aligns with our mission to provide accessible and efficient healthcare.

“We are committed to supporting the implementation of these initiatives within pharmacies, and ensuring that pharmacists have the investment, tools and the training needed to fully leverage these advancements.”

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