Do you remember being a kid and playing with Lego? In our house we had a small suitcase full of Lego. It used to make the most horrendous noise as you crashed around the case looking for the specific piece, but the building base was always the easiest to find and the most important to get right.

The delivery of eHealth Ireland has been moving through the hunt for the building block base since the publication of the strategy in late 2013. Through 2014 we have collected the instructions, studied what is needed and started to collect those pieces together. We have asked around some friends to learn from their experiences and started to build, and now we have the possibility to move from more than the foundations and a collection of building blocks.

The National Health Care Conference gives us chance to gather experts from across Ireland and the UK to give us some insight into what our next steps are and for us to put out there just how we build that ‘Lego house’.

First, the architect, we believe that the clinicians involved in the delivery of eHealth Ireland will be our architect. The Knowledge and Information plan has been created with significant input from clinicians and describes how the team will achieve the clear goals laid out in the eHealth Ireland agenda over the next 5 years. A clinical architect for the destiny of technology in health care in Ireland will help us ensure that our goals, ultimately the delivery of clinical insight to patients, public and clinicians can be met. The way we have done this is in three stages at this point in time with more action to follow;

1 – The creation of the Council of Clinical Information Officers, a group of volunteers who have agreed to provide some time throughout 2015 to ensure that the evolution of how we deliver technology to support care is always grounded in clinical need and capability.

2 – The all-encompassing appendices of the Knowledge and Information plan is literally a clinically led audit of each care setting throughout Ireland’s care settings. It describes what is there today and what is needed by 2020 and allows us to build the plans that utilise technology to create a platform for integrated care.

3 – Advice and guidance, we have invited a number of friends to Dublin from the UK to describe their journey as clinicians, ranging from experience of using social media as a clinician through to how to use Business Intelligence to truly impact upon population health. With an audience of around 800 at the National Health Care Conference we hope this will be a great way to captivate the imagination of people involved in health care across Ireland.

The next stage of that dream grand design is to choose the right builder. We have been engaging with the health technology industry since October, building up our knowledge of how they would like to engage with Ireland and what they can do to help us deliver the benefits we have articulated. The width of the offer from the ‘builders’ is huge. From one great system that will build us a ‘house’ to rival any that has ever been seen to the suppliers who offer the best pieces of a bigger picture and will help us every step of the way to integrate with every type of  building there is out there.

The case for change, a document that describes what the benefits would be and what the next stages for Ireland are as we put in place an Electronic Health Record (EHR) will be will be published in early August. This will start a trend of transparency to the whole piece of work around the EHR delivery. The case for change is the next stage for us being able to decide on which ‘builder’ will aid us in our bid to deliver an EHR for every patient in Ireland in the early 20s and for every patient at the National Childrens Hospital in 2019.

However whether you’re building from Lego or a real house the work doesn’t stop there. Deciding on which room is what function, the decorating and snagging at the end all need to be completed. At the National Health Conference we have also invited a number of experts in areas that we use this analogy for.

Health informatics is complex; if it wasn’t then Ireland would have an EHR by now. Making the most of the data that we have, turning it into insight is the grand mission for us all, after all insight is what the patient and clinician need, not data. The creation of analytical information from data can provide so many benefits to a health system, clinical research, population health and patient empowerment. Three speakers at the National Health Care Conference will dive into the details of these areas discussing how important information governance is to truly open up the data as well as considering how information can be used in different ways and how this can be acted upon.

I hope the analogy isn’t taken too far for the audience either here or at the event. We have moved from more than just building blocks and in the last week it has felt more and more like the journey has started. If you have thoughts on the analogy, the detail or the journey do tweet on the conference hash tag or on the newly launched eHealth Ireland hash tag, #eHealth4All.

Now, where did that yellow brick with three studs go…