National telehealth roadmap for 2024-2027 launches from eHealth Ireland

Ireland’s Health Service Executive has published the HSE Telehealth Roadmap 2024-2027, sharing a strategic plan for addressing the challenges, promoting the adoption of telehealth solutions and outlining “the key building blocks for digital healthcare transformation”.

A series of key aims and actions are shared under those building blocks, which are listed as technology and infrastructure; funding and resourcing; leadership, governance and implementation; healthcare workforce; patients, service users and community; monitoring, evaluation and research; and innovation.

On technology and infrastructure, the roadmap shares three key aims: to align development of solutions with HSE’s overall digital implementation strategy and related developments, to improve availability of telehealth infrastructure, and to ensure that technical measures are in place to support security, privacy, interoperability and GDPR compliance. In terms of actions, HSE states that resources and policies for telehealth will be shared and aligned with other digital solutions where possible; support will be provided for those seeking funding for telehealth equipment or those undertaking procurement; security and privacy recommendations will be developed for the storage and management of data from telehealth solutions; and expertise will be build “on surmounting the challenges of conflicts between connected medical devices and cyber security software and firewalls”.

Aims under funding and resourcing include making funding processes for telehealth visible and available to all healthcare organisations and ensuring appropriate workforce planning and resourcing. Actions here include HSE providing support to providers and organisations seeking resources to fund telehealth solutions, equipment and evaluations; establishing and sharing business case templates for telehealth solutions; administering licensing centrally to ensure best value for money and efficiency of administration where suitable; and continuing to expand on the recruitment of dedicated digital health roles.

Leadership, governance and implementation aims include establishing a telehealth operating model which includes regional and local telehealth networks to provide leadership and support coordinated development; ensuring that guidance is available for “good, standardised clinical and data governance for telehealth”; and developing minimum performance criteria requirements for telehealth solutions. The roadmap sets out how HSE plans to build awareness across the service of these requirements along with digital clinical safety and clear definitions of requirements, liaise with vendors to ensure collaboration and understanding of requirements from their side, and develop templates for business cases, telehealth policies, standard operating procedures, consent forms and patient information resources that can be adapted for local services and organisations.

For the healthcare workforce, HSE’s aims are to build awareness of opportunities, trust and buy-in around telehealth; to improve digital capabilities; and to embed telehealth in clinical practice. To achieve this, telehealth will be included in all relevant healthcare workforce terms and conditions along with professional educational programmes. System-wide key performance indicators for the development of telehealth services are to be identified and monitored; in-person and virtual telehealth continuous professional development opportunities are to be developed and promoted; and an communication plan is to be delivered across institutions to highlight the benefits, evidence and opportunities for telehealth.

On patients, service users and community, the roadmap shares aims to build awareness and trust in telehealth and to provide equitable and inclusive access for all. HSE pledges to continue to seek input from the public and patient advisory groups in co-design, development and implementation of telehealth strategies; to provide clear processes to report any issues; to include training on accessibility in telehealth for the workforce; and to work with community organisations to focus on priority populations.

Regarding monitoring, evaluation and research, aims include creating a “clearer national picture” of current and new telehealth projects across public and private sectors; and increasing focus on telehealth quality improvement, risk assessments, audits, evaluation and research. Actions in this area include collecting information on existing and future telehealth implementations nationally including types of technology and infrastructure along with the resources required and learnings from implementations; providing guidance on health technology assessments, risk assessments, standard tools and guidance; and embedding a requirement for more evaluations for all new and existing telehealth solutions.

Finally, on innovation, HSE’s aims are to support and promote more telehealth innovations across the service, and to support mainstreaming of innovative solutions. The roadmap lays out actions to develop “clear and safe processes and guidance to establish, operate, evaluate and close pilot telehealth innovations”; to develop a formal process for engaging with industry partners around emerging innovations; to engage internationally to share learnings; and to develop a map of stages of innovation along with recommended steps for each stage.

The roadmap can be found in full here.

In other news from Ireland, we recently covered how the National Forensic Mental Health Service has launched its new electronic medical record.

Additionally, we covered how the Health Service Executive awarded a multi-year contract to Cardiac Services to deliver Nervecentre’s software as Ireland’s sole country-wide acute floor information system.