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For Oral Answer on : 01/06/2023
Question Number(s): 59 Question Reference(s): 26613/23
Department: Health
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.


To ask the Minister for Health the ways that he is encouraging and supporting the reduction of paper-based systems in the health service; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


Thank you for your question Deputy. Whilst there are various mechanisms whereby we can support the reduction in paper-based systems used in the health service, including fundamental redesign of processes, the most obvious way to transition away from paper is to modernise the health system through the digitisation of processes and procedures. There are clinical and non clinical areas across the health service that will benefit from this approach and when such systems are deployed this also acts as a catalyst to revisit existing and legacy processes so that we gain the true benefit associated with applying digital technologies to the services that we provide to patients and how we manage the health service operationally.

Examples of where paper based processes are being replaced from across the health service include the use of electronic referrals from GPs to hospitals, the elimination of paper scripts in the community – a change introduced as a means of improving social distancing by avoiding unnecessary visits to GP surgeries for repeat prescriptions during the pandemic, the electronic transfer of laboratory test results from hospitals that previously would have been issued by post, the use of Patient Administration Systems across all our hospitals, the deployment of clinical, departmental systems such as those used in ICU, our National Imaging System that has mostly eliminated the use of film entirely, using digital images instead, Electronic Health Record system deployments at maternity hospitals and at our largest hospital, St James Hospital Dublin, and the national integrated financial system that is currently well advanced with 80% of all transactions managed by this system by 2025.

As we plan for the future and continue to invest in clinical and operational systems, we will see a steady reduction in our reliance on paper based systems. Such developments will need to be equally matched by our investment in security and sophisticated disaster recovery systems and processes that are critical as we transition from paper to digital.