Even the HSE CIO says PPSN would work as a health ID so why a separate number?

So yesterday, and this was news to me, we got another unique one per person number. Apart form the PPSN, used for pretty much every state and many non state ID purposes, and the new pupil number for the POD database, we are now to have a unique IHI health ID number. This project is uncosted, and hasnt really been told not to mind sold to people.

I asked the Chief Information Officer of the HSE if the PPSN would work. Yes. Ok, there are a host of data protection issues, but the reality is what the new IHI will be is a key to identify patient details on a database. That database, and the access to same, and the security of the key etc, they will all have to be dealt with. So, when the CIO says the existing state system would work, why on earth are we putting in a new one?

Screenshot 2015-08-06 07.41.48


3 thoughts on “Even the HSE CIO says PPSN would work as a health ID so why a separate number?

  1. Greg Foley

    Given that a common sight in hospitals is a member of admin staff wheeling around a shopping trolley full of patient charts, it’ll be interesting to see what sort of information will be on this new ‘database’!

    Bringing Irish medicine into the 21st century needs a much more bottom-driven approach. This is occurring in some parts of the system but it’s all very patchy, the primary problem being that doctors still spend large amounts of time scribbling into charts.. It’ll be a massive challenge to digitise the system and it’s going to take years. This new number won’t help, at least not now – maybe later.

  2. John

    Sorry, IHI is a good idea.

    And the CIO is is technically wrong in his answer. There are two issues going on here, Security and the Domain Model use.

    The first issue in security is data protection is where all the regulatory issues come into it. For example who is allowed record unique id’s, how long are they allowed retain it and what can they do with it while they have it. That gets programmed in.

    And the second is Securing the data means what do you do to make sure nobody gets into your database and steal your information. This involves securing the information at a technical level but also building defense into the system.

    Having a unique number for the medical field separate from Tax affairs means that their is no accidental links that can be exposed to attack. If you look at other jurisdictions, like the USA a loyalty card for a shop is allowed ask you for your social security number and then they have that, your name and your address. Just having that set of information has exposed tax payers to wide spread theft of the refunds on their tax credits. IHI builds in a natural break to that.

    Do we have that problem? Not on a large or automated scale like in the US because we have adopted reasonable policies in the matter. Why have we better polices? because we are late to the game and saw everybody elses mistakes.

    As for the Domain Model use, PPSN and IHI do two different job.

    One point if difference is that the PPSN is for interaction with the government. It is controlled by the government and has a legislative framework geared to that. The IHI is to manage the interaction between state and private Hospitals to develop a clear data trail. The implication of this is IHI supports decentralised number generation, PPSN does not.

    The IHI is also there to create an audit trail. The PPSN systems prevent audit trails except in specially defended systems.

    These two examples imply that if the PPSN was used for the IHI then you would have the same number used in two different and contradictory ways. If you remember PPARS, at the core of that was an inability to grapple with different Domain Models and standarise them. IHI involves that contradiction and would reflect hard one lessons in design pharmaceutical and health IT applications.

    IHI is a good idea technically and will lead to reduced costs in the long run.


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