HSE and eHealth Ireland welcome the commencement order in relation to the Individual Health Identifier (IHI)
IHI will now become operational throughout Ireland
The HSE and eHealth Ireland welcome the commencement order for the Individual Health Identifier (IHI) signed by the Minister of Health Mr Simon Harris yesterday, Tuesday 30th May 2017. This allows for the operational use of the IHI throughout the Irish healthcare system in line with the terms of the Health Identifiers Act 2014.
An Individual Health Identifier is a number that identifies each person who has used or may use a health or social care service in Ireland. Each individual will be assigned their own personal number which is unique to them. The main benefit of having an Individual Health Identifier is to uniquely identify each service user and therefore, improve patient safety by reducing errors that might happen, such as ensuring patients receive the correct medication, vaccinations, and treatment.
The IHI is established first and foremost as a patient safety mechanism. It also allows for a new level of audibility and traceability for healthcare information by providing a record of who accessed information and when. No medical information is contained within the IHI register.
Welcoming the signing of the commencement order, John Hennessey, National Director for Primary Care said, “This allows for the work to fully implement the IHI to proceed. Making the IHI operational will be done in a planned and managed way over a period of time, to ensure that services are well prepared and that all safeguards are in place to protect people’s privacy.”
Richard Corbridge, HSE Chief Information Officer and CEO of eHealth Ireland said “This is a fundamental block in building a better health service through the availability of digital solutions. The IHI allows us to work with GP’s, hospitals, digital partners, patients, and service providers, to make the IHI available in as many care settings as possible. This will be done incrementally, with the patient’s interests at the centre of every decision along the way”.
Minister for Health Simon Harris said, "The bringing into operation of the relevant provisions in the Health Identifiers Act and the making of Regulations on accessing the National IHI Register and using the IHI, represent further tangible steps in my commitment to enhancing patient safety and developing the eHealth agenda necessary for a modern patient-centred health service."
The Health Identifiers Act, 2014, provides the legislation for the Individual Health Identifier. In September 2015 a delegation order was commenced to allow the HSE to develop and operate the IHI on behalf of the Minister for Health.
An IHI (number) has been created and assigned to Irish residents who have used or may use the health and social care services within Ireland. People do not need to know their IHI to access services. For more information on the IHI project and its progress visit www.ehealthireland.ie/IHI
The eReferrals service and each of the General Practice Management Systems have now been configured to store and display the IHI number and an interface has been developed to allow these systems to ‘Find’ IHI numbers for their patient records. These systems are ready to become operational once a Legislative Commencement Order for the provision of IHI numbers to Health Service Providers is signed by the Minister of Health.
Progress towards the delivery of the Individual Health Identifier (IHI) has continued since the announcement of the programme on 11 March 2015.
In July 2015, a proof of concept version of the infrastructure was created and a data cleansing and the matching process was completed, with over 90% success match rate against existing HSE Primary Care Reimbursement (PCRS) records.
The proof of concept solution was made available to a number of systems so that they could begin to understand how clinical benefit can be gained from local systems by deploying access to the IHI. Access to this system was not against real data. The HSE’s own development team carried out this early review with volunteer suppliers, Slainte Healthcare, Socrates Healthcare Informatics and Helix Health.
In September 2015 a delegation order was commenced to allow the HSE to develop and operate the IHI on behalf of the Minister for Health.
A Public Consultation for the draft IHI Privacy Impact Assessment published on January 28, 2016, was conducted in March 2016 and extended to 8th April 2016 due to the volume of interest.
The outcomes for the Public Consultation and the IHI Privacy Impact Assessment itself was published on 10/08/2016.
On November 8th 2016, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed with the Department of Social Protection for the provision of Public Service Identify Records for the population and maintenance of the IHI Register allowing for the population of the IHI Register with 6.2 million approx. records for known residents of Ireland.
IHI numbers were generated and assigned to these records.
Future decisions regarding which Health Service Provider systems will have access to the IHI will be agreed within the Health Identifiers Programme based on evaluation of candidate systems against criteria relating to clinical benefit and patient safety rather than being technology led. For example, the New Born and Maternity system is already high on the list of systems to consider to ensure that the IHI is available to babies from birth.