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All patient medical records should be combined in one digital file – HIQA
All patient medical records should be combined in one digital file – HIQA

11 Feb 2021 / data law Print

Medical records to combine in one digital file – HIQA

The Health information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published its recommendations on a national electronic patient summary in Ireland.

The information will be used by healthcare providers as a snapshot of a patient’s essential clinical information.

Also known as a ‘summary care record’, it brings together information from various IT systems into a single place to support a patient during an episode of unscheduled care.

Impact assessment

HIQA has recommended that a data-privacy impact assessment (DPIA) should be carried out as an early priority, in order to ensure that individual rights are protected and that the national electronic summary complies with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The file will summarise the patient’s relevant demographics, health conditions, current medications, allergies, vaccinations and any procedures in the last six months.

HIQA director of health information and standards, Rachel Flynn said: “Electronic patient summaries have the potential to make healthcare delivery safer and more effective by ensuring healthcare professionals have access to a patient’s information, such as medical history and prescribed medications, at the point of care.”


The recommendations outline best practice for the implementation of a national electronic patient summary, covering themes such as:

  • Policy and legislation,
  • Governance structures,
  • Phased implementation,
  • Sources of information,
  • The need for national health identifiers, and
  • Engagement with stakeholders. 

Best chance of success

Rachel Flynn added “The implementation of a national electronic patient summary stands the best chance of success if all the recommendations made are implemented in a clear, timely and transparent way.”

The recommendations are available to read here.

A national electronic patient summary was listed by the Sláintecare Implementation Plan (2018) as a crucial element of Ireland’s national eHealth policy, and a key area for the modernisation of the health-and-social-care system in Ireland.

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