I feel privileged, as a clinician, to be on the senior management team of the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OoCIO), a member of the eHealth Ireland committee and the coordinator of the Council of Clinical Information Officers (CCIO).

The responsibility of these roles is somewhat onerous but this is counterbalanced by the advantages of having a practicing clinician sitting at these tables making decisions about information. I believe that having the correct information at the right time is as important as the availability of the correct medicines to treat patients.

My main role, currently, is the coordinator of the CCIO.

What do we do?

  • Provide a safe place for clinicians to speak openly generate new ideas, be heard and openly discuss current and proposed IT solutions
  • Showcase excellent IT systems enabling clinical practice at home and abroad
  • Provide the clinical expertise from which an agile group of individuals with specialist knowledge in a particular area of clinical practice can be selected to collaborate and make informed decisions about IT solutions in a timely manner

It is my hope that by establishing a culture of collaboration and openness that we will reach the eventual goal of knowledge and patient information securely shared by those who need to see it. Recipients of healthcare will have access to their own health record and will have oversight of those who are accessing it. I feel that this alone will empower patients to take more responsibility for their own health and make informed decisions about their own care as they will be provided with choices. It is hoped that this access to knowledge will improve the health of the population as a whole.

Where do we start?

We need to make sure that the goals of clinicians and the goals of the HSE and our Department of Health are in line and that the electronic solutions that we approve and help to design will deliver high quality, safe and effective patient care.

How will we achieve this?

An integrated approach is needed to make sure that the IT solutions purchased and those ones we already use work together to allow those in receipt of care to travel through different settings, eg from GP to hospital to specialist care and back again and for their up to date health information to travel with them.

To reach this level of care, there will be have to be changes to the way we currently operate as clinicians. Some of these changes will provide instant advantages to clinicians and patients, others may take longer to pay back and it may be to the population as a whole and not to individuals. We need to take advantage of this change opportunity to gently steer fellow clinicians to more efficient models of care in some instances, to build in standards regarding information at the procurement stage and to incorporate emerging best international practices and national guidelines into pathways of care.

We do not underestimate the significance or the magnitude of this change to process and technology but we do hope to lead it in tandem with the national clinical care programmes and the entire OoCIO, guided by the director general and the minister for health.

If you want to learn more about the CCIO community in Ireland then:

Follow them on twitter @ccio_hse