Varadkar announces HSE Chief Information Officer to overhaul ICT

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Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has announced the appointment of the first Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the HSE as the first step in overhauling the health service’s technological capacity.

Richard Corbridge is responsible for ensuring that technology is used to support healthcare as effectively and as cost-efficiently as possible. This will include the Individual Health Identifier project, which will ultimately bring huge benefits for patients by providing them with a single set of records for any health treatment they receive.

Richard’s role will include Chief Officer for eHealth Ireland, the Government strategy which aims to use ICT to improve patient care and the overall health service.

Richard has worked in health care informatics in the UK for the last 17 years. His technology work has delivered benefits to patients at national and local levels in the UK. Most recently he was CIO for the UK’s National Institute for Health Research, which aims to turn the benefits of the latest medical research into better patient care. Richard was named in the top 15 CIOs in the UK in 2014 by CIO magazine and listed as one of the top innovators in healthcare by the Health Service Journal for 2014.

Minister Varadkar said: “Information technology in the Irish health service is years behind where it should be.  Information technology has a crucial role in patient care. It allows medical staff to immediately share vital information, records to be stored and shared, and a vast range of other functions. It allows smaller hospitals to link up with centres of excellence and allows more patients to be treated at home.  We have already started work on the Unique Patient Identifier which has the potential to transform patient information when it’s up and running and there will be a significant increase in the HSE’s budget for ICT in 2015.

“All of these tasks will require a major investment by the State and will take many years. It’s a significant challenge. There are a huge number of different ICT systems across the HSE which still cannot communicate with each other. A lot of this investment in ICT will depend on continuing economic growth. But Richard Corbridge is an excellent candidate for that task having 17 years of health sector ICT experience in the UK.”

Richard said: “Joining the HSE is a great opportunity to deliver a vision where technology can be leveraged to support and enhance how healthcare is provided throughout the country. Technological innovation and the benefits it can deliver have continued at a pace that far out steps the implementation of technology into healthcare on a global scale.

“Throughout Ireland are pockets of health technology excellence in action. A key immediate action for the Office of the CIO is to consider how to join up these centres of excellence to ensure that local benefits are released nationally and lessons learnt from across the country can be applied to national implementations. The outcome will be to make an Ireland wide difference to the healthcare system.

“My first task is to work with colleagues in the HSE, finalising an information technology plan to move the eHealth agenda along. Ireland is in a very good position to capitalise on experiences in developing health care ICT in other jurisdictions and the idea of developing an eHealth ecosystem was a good one that would help drive the eHealth strategy.”

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Further information

The key focus for the newly appointed CIO/Chief Officer for eHealth Ireland will be to:
·        ensure that Information and ICT is fully aligned with the health services and helps to provide high quality, effective and efficient healthcare;
·        finalise an ICT strategy that supports health service management, healthcare reform, improved levels of patient care, healthcare informatics and government objectives in relation to eHealth;
·        prioritise and direct all ICT and eHealth activities within the health services and in particular the ICT aspects of key business projects such as the new financial operating model, the health identifier and other patient focused information initiatives;
·        ensure that appropriate governance and management processes are in place so that the public health system has an integrated information and ICT organisation, with all of the necessary skills and expertise and underpinned by an appropriate business model;
·        develop critical relationships across the broader stakeholder environment (including the enterprise and academic environment) to leverage the potential of eHealth;
·        in line with the vision of the eHealth Strategy, build an eHealth ecosystem to support continuous innovation and partnership across private and public sectors.