A new digital health plan to improve people’s health experiences was launched at the Health Service Executive (HSE) ‘Better Together for Digital Healthcare’ conference on 1 December 2023.

The ‘HSE Telehealth Roadmap 2024-2027: Building Blocks for the Embedding & Expansion of Telehealth’ was developed by the HSE National Telehealth Steering Committee to transform the delivery of healthcare in the Republic of Ireland.

Welcoming delegates, Loretto Grogan, HSE National Chief Nursing and Midwifery Information Officer, reflected on digital progress made so far: “The COVID-19 pandemic enabled momentum in digital health developments that may have otherwise taken years. It is crucial that we build on this, putting strong foundations in place to digitise, connect and transform services safely and securely to improve the outcomes, experience and safety for people accessing our health service.

“The potential benefits of telehealth are clear. For example, remote video and telephone consultations can reduce travel time, costs, emissions and time away from work, school, families and communities.

“Telehealth can also support timely intervention, reduce hospital admissions and facilitate early discharge through empowering patients with wearable technologies that can be monitored remotely by health teams.

“Now we have a strategic and coherent plan to ensure that telehealth is developed in an efficient, sustainable, safe manner. The Telehealth Roadmap identifies key building blocks which are critical to a firm foundation for telehealth in Ireland.”

The roadmap aims to ensure that the continued development of HSE telehealth services nationally are safe, effective, efficient, scalable, sustainable, and interoperable.

It also aims to empower and improve the quality of life and care of patients by, where clinically appropriate, increasing access to safe and effective remote video and/or phone consultations, reducing the need to travel to and from appointments.

Additionally, the roadmap will incorporate innovative technologies that will allow clinical teams to closely monitor users’ conditions from where they call home, reducing time spent in hospitals.

A range of online supports and therapies provided by safe and trusted healthcare providers and partner agencies from where the patient calls home are also included in the roadmap.

A core theme of the conference was the digital empowerment of the health service workforce.

Professor Richard Greene, Chief Clinical Information Officer at HSE, added: “While digital health incorporates software, hardware, services and everything from mobile health apps to electronic health records, we must acknowledge that these will not deliver healthcare improvements alone. We need integrated and standardised workflows, improved resource management and a renewed focus on patients and carers needs. Our focus is optimising these tools for the benefit of our patients and healthcare workers.”

The Telehealth Roadmap is available at Digital Health. See eHealthIreland.ie for further information.

A new round of Digital Inclusion Funding worth £400,000 has been launched to support voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations working to help combat digital exclusion in Lambeth, London.

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