Posted: 12/01/18

The ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology hosted the second joint gathering of eHealth Ireland and Northern Ireland Connected Health ecosystems in Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin on January 12th 2018. Attended by over 150 professionals associated with the healthcare profession, the gathering placed a special focus on the potential implications of Brexit and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The joint gathering brings together government departments and agencies across Ireland and Northern Ireland to improve population wellbeing. Professionals from multiple disciplines associated with healthcare come together to discuss issues which may affect patients, present potential solutions and technologies, and form connections across all areas of healthcare, enabling possible collaborations.

Professor Dave Lewis, Deputy Director for Industry Spokes in the Adapt Centre, presented one of the afternoon lectures entitled “General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Research Data Sharing”. The GDPR, which comes into effect in May 2018, imposes new restrictions on the storage, management, transfer and generation of data across the UK and EU member states. During the lecture, Prof Lewis highlighted the potential implications these regulations will have on data flows affecting patients, healthcare providers and researchers. The GDPR will result in increased transparency and will make data portability obligatory. Prof Lewis also emphasised the new opportunities this will bring including improving data portability and potential collaborations between healthcare stakeholders.

The gathering encouraged the sharing of information and experiences through workshops and networking. One of the workshops highlighting cross border collaborations and opportunities featured Prof Gaye Stephens of the Centre for Health Informatics in Trinity College Dublin. The panel, “Informed consent for sharing your eHealth information” discussed privacy and ethical issues related to digitising medical records. This workshop is particularly relevant with the move towards digitising patient records into an Electronic Health Record (EHR), starting with maternity hospitals across Ireland. As babies born in these maternity hospitals will have an EHR automatically generated for them it is vital that privacy and ethical issues are at the forefront of EHR technology development.

Attendees of the gathering were reminded of the importance of not just cross border initiatives between North and South but also the importance of a connected global community. This was reflected in the presentation from the Ministry of Social Affairs in Estonia on  eHealth in Estonia, where 100% of citizens have a national digital health record and 99% of state services and prescriptions are now digital. International collaborations such as these allow vital knowledge to be shared and best practice to be established.

A full agenda of the day along with copies of the presentations and discussions can be found here.

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