Gaps in the health data system identified in the Hiqa report

A range of gaps, including potential confidentiality issues, have been identified in the main health information system used in Ireland to inform the planning, delivery and financing of health care.

A review of the inpatient survey system (HIPE) by the health standards oversight body said issues with governance structures may impact its crucial role in health care planning.

The system collects demographic, clinical and administrative information on discharges and deaths from all acute care hospitals, reporting over 1.7 million inpatient and day case records annually.

HIPE data is used in research, including compiling data on drug and alcohol-related hospitalizations and deaths, and psychiatric admissions.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) undertook the review to assess compliance with information management standards for national health and social care data.

In particular, the review found that there was “no national oversight structure or arrangement in place for the governance, leadership and management of HIPE at a senior level within the HSE”.


Hiqa makes nine recommendations, including that the “necessary provisions” to meet new legal obligations under EU data protection law should be implemented.

He added that, as stated in the General Data Protection Regulation, the responsible office within the HSE “should clearly define the circumstances in which it is necessary to request specific consent to use data beyond the purposes for which the data was collected ”.

He said the office should also undertake a review to assess the need for a data protection impact assessment, which was a mandatory requirement, especially in light of “data sharing practices” and the impact of the upcoming introduction of individual health identifiers.

Rachel Flynn, Director of Health Information and Standards at Hiqa, said: “The review revealed gaps in HIPE’s governance structures that could impact its critical role in planning and funding healthcare. health care. To ensure that HIPE can fulfill its essential role, it is important that the HSE implements the nine recommendations made by Hiqa today.

Ms Flynn said adhering to information management standards would improve the quality of national health information and data, “which will ultimately contribute to the provision of safe and reliable health and social care in Ireland”.

HIPE was established as a pilot project in 1969 and rolled out to all public acute care hospitals in the 1970s.

The information system was transferred from the Institute for Economic and Social Research (ESRI) to the HSE in 2014.

Dublin Castlebridge’s data governance consultant Daragh O’Brien said the report should be seen as a “timely warning not only to HIPE, but to a range of other e-health initiatives.”

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