HSE computer glitch shows need for improved health technology systems

August 3, 2017

The HSE computer glitch which has potentially affected some 25,000 patients was an avoidable mistake that could have been caught earlier had the right systems been in place, the Social Democrats said today.

Galway West candidate, Niall Ó Tuathail, who is a health reform adviser with the NHS, said:

“This flaw was an avoidable mistake. As we rely more and more on technology in healthcare, it is important we have both human and algorithm checks in place to ensure that similar mistakes don’t happen again. Algorithms can check big data sets for systematic errors and, had they been in place, this glitch should have been caught earlier.

“Our health system needs to improve how health technology is developed, purchased and managed to make sure mistakes like this, as well as data security issues, are fixed in early testing stages before going live. In the end, tech systems can’t replace clinical judgement and should only be used as a support.”

Mr Ó Tuathail said the computer flaw highlighted wider shortcomings in relation to how diagnostic tests are delivered in the Irish health system.

“The recent Sláintecare reform plan, produced by an Oireachtas committee chaired by my party colleague Róisín Shortall TD, advocates investing €875 million in eHealth over six years, and €60 million in diagnostics.

“This sort of investment will help to save money, but more importantly to save lives. Continuing to rely on paper records means we are actually relying on patients’ and doctors’ memory for our health history.

“The HSE has made one its best appointments in recent years in bringing Richard Corbridge in from the NHS as the Chief Information Officer. He has made great progress on eHealth in a short amount of time and needs to be supported to make this a reality.”

ENDS

3 August 2017