Health Service Provider Identifiers
Health Directory is a technical infrastructure which stores, maintains and publishes current, up-to-date, quality assured and verified standard codes and identifiers and geocodes for health-related entities i.e., Practitioners, Organisations, Services, locations, and the relationships between these entities.
How does Health Directory work?
From a business perspective it is a national database of the most up-to-date information on health sites, locations, health care providers and services provided by the HSE (Health Service Executive) and Private/Voluntary Organisations in Ireland, including contact/communication and geographical location information.
From a technical perspective it facilitates integration between health care systems by using standard unique identifiers for health care practitioners, health care organisations and health services enabling the sharing of information across numerous systems that may need to use the information.
The A2i-HIDs team are also working with our colleagues in HSE Digital team to develop a comprehensive, accurate and reliable Directory of Services. This project will be capturing data held in local community care offices and hospitals that will include lists and descriptions of services available, buildings, locations, care providers, opening hours etc.
The existing Service Directory system is to be replaced with a new system called Health Directory. The capabilities of the new system can be broken down into two programmes of work:
- To replace (and improve) the relevant business processes that are currently provided by the Service Directory.
- To extend the functionality of the Health Directory to be a source of truth for all health-related reference data. The Health Directory will store, maintain and publish identifiers and related data for organisations, locations, practitioners, and services.
The entities relevant to the Health Directory are:
- People / Practitioners
In the Health Directory, the people we are referring to are those involved with the provision of care, not the patients being cared for. These can be Healthcare Professionals or other staff members. A Healthcare Professional is defined as a person who has a professional registration with a professional registration body, whereas the category of other staff members comprises any other staff of healthcare organisations that are of interest to the Health Directory.
The organisations we are concerned with in the Health Directory are Healthcare Organisations, which are defined as a group or business entity involved in the direct or indirect provision of healthcare services to an individual or to a population.
A service in the Health Directory is defined as a service provided by an organisation, generally for the direct benefit of a patient.
A location in the Health Directory is defined as a physical location in which patients are cared for and healthcare services exist, or any other place of interest to an organisation. The location is uniquely identified by a GS1 GLN (Global location number), and will have attributes associated with it like address, eircode, geo-coordinates, building name etc.
The new Health Directory will be the source of truth for the entities above. It will assign globally unique GS1 identifiers for all data within the entities and maintain the integrity of the data with robust integration with trusted data sources (e.g., The Medical Council of Ireland). HIDS Business will own and manage the system. They are responsible for the engagement with trusted data sources and the accompanying data sharing agreements, SOP’s etc. They are also responsible for the agreements and operating procedures for downstream consumers of the data, e.g., Health Atlas, St John of God, Nimis, Covax etc. The HIDS Business team will own and manage the data. They will ensure the integrity of the data via the new Health Directory Portal. The data will be made available to downstream systems via API’s that will allow them to query the data in real-time. The API’s will also allow consumers to retrieve pull down daily extracts of the data from the Health Directory so that they can maintain their own local sync of the data. These types of operations are currently available in the Covid Health Directory.
Progress to date
Covid Health Directory (Status: Live since Nov 2020)
The Covid Health Directory has been “live” since the early stages of the pandemic. Its purpose was to manage and maintain locations in a covid setting. The system manages approx. 28k locations. These locations were divided between “Health and Social Care” and “non-Health” entities. They were further divided into sub-categories, e.g., Hospitals, GP practice, Prisons etc.
Each of these locations was assigned a globally unique GS1 GLN identifier. The data is actively managed and maintained by the HIDS business team using the “Covid Health Directory Portal”.
There were various sources for the data sets - e.g., Tusla and other health agencies, but also others such as the Department of Justice.
The Covid Health Directory allows consumers to retrieve data via a suit of API’s. They can query the data in real-time, or they can pull down daily extracts so that they can maintain their own local copy of the data.
General queries: firstname.lastname@example.org