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Future Health Summit - Fran Thompson, CIO HSE

Transforming Healthcare: Insights from the Future Health Summit

At the recent Future Health Summit, Fran Thompson, CIO HSE, delivered an engaging presentation on the future of electronic health records and digital transformation within the HSE. This presentation was followed by an insightful interview with Dr. Tom O'Callaghan, providing a comprehensive overview of the HSE’s strategic direction and its implications for healthcare delivery.

Fran Thompson began by emphasising the critical need to build on the electronic health record (EHR) solutions that other countries have successfully implemented. He stressed that strategic investments will be prioritised based on the HSE’s strategy and implementation plan, acknowledging the necessity of making tough decisions about which projects to pursue given limited resources.

A central theme of Fran’s presentation was the importance of prioritising initiatives and highlighting the need to make decisions that balance immediate needs with long-term goals. This prioritisation is essential for setting realistic, time-bound goals that benefit both the clinical community and patients.

 The HSE’s Digital Health Roadmap revolves around six guiding principles, with the patient as an empowered partner at the centre. Fran advocated for making all relevant data available to patients to help them manage their health more effectively. He used the analogy of individuals acting as EHRs for their families, tracking appointments and medical records due to the fragmented nature of healthcare records.

Fran also highlighted the need for digitally enabled and connected care, encompassing a wide range of clinical and support systems beyond EHRs. He pointed to the success of the NIMIS program, which has transitioned to a long-term environment, and the significant achievement of having over 80,000 people using Office 365 under a single domain.

Innovation and data-driven services are key areas of focus. Fran acknowledged the challenges large organisations face with innovation and the need to collaborate with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that can innovate rapidly and effectively. Data utilisation, as demonstrated during COVID-19, will drive decision-making and service improvements, forming a cornerstone of future healthcare delivery.

Fran outlined the framework's structure, which includes one vision, six principles, and 48 initiatives, encompassing hundreds of projects. Key initiatives for the year include launching a HSE app, remote care monitoring, and digital therapies. By the end of June, virtual wards are expected to be operational in Limerick and St. Vincent’s, and the shared care record system, currently in procurement, aims to start implementation by October.

In the subsequent interview, Dr. Tom O'Callaghan asked Fran to highlight some real successes from the IT side. Thompson cited the NIMIS program, which has revolutionised medical imaging, reducing turnaround times from months to days. He also mentioned Healthlink, the integration system between GPs and HSE services, which processes around 20 million messages annually.

the HSE, Fran emphasised the need for focused collaboration. He urged vendors and partners to align their proposals with the HSE’s strategic priorities and highlighted the importance of the Health Regions in driving implementation and innovation.

Fran acknowledged the successes of countries like Singapore and New Zealand in integrating healthcare data and emphasised the HSE's openness to adopting best practices from around the world. He reiterated the HSE's commitment to patient-cantered care, involving patients in decision-making and co-designing solutions.

The interview concluded with a recognition of the challenges in procurement and implementation, but also with a strong endorsement from the audience, reflecting the collective commitment to advancing Ireland's healthcare system.

The HSE Digital Health Strategic Implementation Roadmap is due to be submitted to the HSE Board in late June. For further queries around the Digital Health Roadmap please contact: