Technology 'could save HSE millions'


THE HSE could save €79 million a year by introducing electronic patient records and €195 million a year by treating chronic illness in the home, according to a report prepared by a coalition of 17 telecoms and technology firms.

The report, presented to Minister for Health Mary Harney, also found there would be 106,000 fewer prescription errors in the primary care sector and 292 fewer diabetic deaths per year if Ireland “radically improved” the use of and investment in technology in the health sector.

The potential benefits were calculated by looking at the savings identified in a July 2009 study sponsored by the Swedish EU presidency and by applying them to Ireland on a pro-rata basis.

The Health ICT Industry Group, which published the report, says the HSE needs to triple its spending on technology and telecoms from 0.75 per cent of its overall budget to 2.25 per cent.

This would bring the spend to about €330 million annually and would bring Ireland to the median of European spending on ICT in healthcare.

The companies behind the report, which include BT, Cisco, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle as well as indigenous firms, say the individual investments would break even over a one- to five-year period, while in the longer term healthcare technology projects deliver a 400 per cent return.

Underlying the improvements that can be achieved, the Blackrock Clinic announced this week that it had invested in business analytics software from SAS.

More usually associated with financial services companies and large corporations, the software is being used by the clinic to improve the cost effectiveness and speed of patient treatment.

SAS’s Activity Based Management software enables the clinic to view its operational and patient data in totality to see where cost savings can be made.

“Senior management sought to understand where inefficiencies existed and to identify on an ongoing basis areas for growth and innovation in the patient experience,” said Bryan Harty, chief executive of the clinic.

“One of the major drivers for the SAS implementation was to enable decisions based on up-to-the-minute factual data at a detailed level to enable the hospital to effectively manage performance, price services and meet service-level commitments.”