Mark Hindle, Vice President of EMEA at Orion Health

For years, Ireland’s healthcare system has been on a determined path of digital
transformation, progressively replacing paper-based processes with electronic ones.
Significant strides have been made at a national level, with the introduction of a patient
administration system and unique health identifiers. However, the next stage in its journey
will see the introduction of a National Shared Care Record, a leap that holds immense
promise for reshaping the patient care landscape across the country.

A Transformative vision

The push for change comes from recognising that merely digitising administrative processes
is not enough. The focus is now shifting towards delivering the technology required to
revolutionise the way patients and clinicians access vital health information. The National
Shared Care Record represents an evolution in healthcare data management for Ireland,
allowing seamless access to patient records across geographical boundaries. Whether a
patient seeks healthcare in their hometown of Galway, where they attend university in
Dublin, or in Cork where they currently live, their comprehensive medical history will flow
with them.

The implementation of a shared care record will empower the Health Service Executive
(HSE) to consolidate all healthcare data into a single, accessible platform. Creating a
longitudinal dataset that holds immense potential. Not only facilitating information sharing
between different clinical settings but also joining up data to create a seamless healthcare
experience – reducing the frustration often experienced by patients when it feels like their
medical history is not readily available at each point of care.

One of the primary advantages of a shared care record (SCR) is its potential to reduce
instances of information loss during transitions between care teams. For example, when
patients move from a hospital setting and into the care of their local general practitioner (GP)
or district nurse, it is crucial that the new care team is fully informed about the individual’s
personal circumstances, comorbidities, social arrangements, and the extent of their circle of
care. The SCR acts as a bridge, ensuring that critical information follows the patient at every
point of their healthcare journey. It will enhance the continuity of care, reducing the likelihood
of information loss and missed opportunities for intervention. By consolidating medical
records, social care information, care plans, and more into a unified system, healthcare
professionals can gain a holistic view of a patient’s health history. This supports seamless
transitions between different healthcare providers and supports coordinated care to give
patients a more connected healthcare journey.

Empowering patients

In addition to enhancing communication among healthcare providers, a SCR empowers
patients to actively engage in their healthcare journey. When provided with easy access to
their own health records and management tools, patients become partners in their care,
fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility. This transparency not only improves the
overall patient experience but also contributes to better health outcomes as individuals
become more actively involved in managing their well-being.

Preparing for a smooth transition

Implementing a National Shared Care Record will require effective change management
strategies to ensure a smooth transition. Healthcare professionals, administrators, and
support staff will need to adapt to new processes and technologies. Training programs,
communication strategies, and stakeholder engagement are pivotal elements in managing
this change successfully. The cultural shift towards embracing technology in healthcare is as
crucial as the technological infrastructure itself.

As Ireland competes with other Western nations to retain its healthcare workforce, the
implementation of a SCR is a strategic imperative. The modern healthcare professional
seeks an environment that embraces technology to improve patient care and streamline
workflows. The new SCR will help to position Ireland as a frontrunner in this regard, offering
a dynamic and innovative healthcare system that not only attracts but also retains skilled

Paving the way for patient-centric healthcare

The introduction of a national shared care record marks a pivotal moment in Ireland’s
healthcare evolution. The potential benefits, ranging from improved patient care and
communication to efficient resource utilisation, position Ireland to create a more integrated
and patient-centric healthcare system.

Additionally, the aggregated data within the SCR opens the door to data-driven insights and
decision-making. Healthcare administrators and policymakers can analyse population health
trends, identify areas of improvement, and allocate resources effectively. Taking a proactive
approach to healthcare management will lead to more targeted interventions, preventive
measures, and improved overall health outcomes for the population.

As Ireland navigates the complexities of this transformative journey, stakeholders must
remain committed to addressing challenges, ensuring data security, and fostering a culture
of continuous improvement. In the coming years, the success of Ireland’s National Shared
Care Record will not only be measured by technological milestones but by the tangible
improvements in patient outcomes, healthcare efficiency, and the overall wellbeing of the
Irish population. By embracing a National Shared Care Record, Ireland has the potential to
propel itself into a new era of healthcare excellence, setting an example for other nations to
follow in the pursuit of a more connected and patient-centric healthcare future.