The use of faxes and non-secure email systems present an unacceptable risk to the health service. Healthmail addresses this risk effectively and is the preferred solution for unstructured communication among health care colleagues. Healthmail helps health care providers to comply with GDPR requirements by securing identifiable, sensitive information as it is communicated with other health providers.
Healthmail has been in operation since 2014 with the original purpose of securing email communication between GPs and hospitals. An evaluation was carried out in early 2017 to gauge satisfaction with the service; as part of this study, GPs were asked which other groups they would like to see join and this included community pharmacies, nursing homes, optometrists and dentists. The expansion of Healthmail has followed this course. Further expansion is planned with high demand specifically from private consultants and physiotherapists.
In April 2020, COVID Emergency Legislative Provisions recognised Healthmail as the national electronic prescription transfer service, permitting the transfer of a prescription between the prescriber and dispensing pharmacy by electronic means, removing the need for a paper equivalent. This has led to phenomenal increases in usage of the system in terms of message throughput, volume and user logins.
Essentially, Healthmail works within a private bounded network. Transport layer security (TLS) connections are in place with all connected agencies. TLS provides an encrypted tunnel between the mail servers, ensuring the security and confidentiality of the data transmitted.
Aside from prescription transfers, some common uses of the system are as follows:
- Transfer of medical records
- Requests for medical reviews
- Referral queries
- Transfer of fundus images
- Communication of allied health professional assessments/ treatment plans
These users can send clinical information securely to any colleague with an @healthmail.ie address, an @hse.ie or an @voluntaryhospital.ie address. In addition, there are a number of other Connected Agencies with whom they can safely communicate patient identifiable information. The full list is published on the eHealth Ireland website at this link: http://www.ehealthireland.ie/A2I-HIDs-Programme/Healthmail