Ireland’s hospital waiting lists for routine procedures often feature in national news reports. Otolaryngology (ENT) wait-times were the third-longest of the publicly visible waiting lists at January 2016. Accordingly, Sound Advice was invited to present at an Open Health Data Night at the Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin, on January 20th, 2016 in a panel that included Richard Corbridge (CIO, Ireland’s Health Service Executive – HSE).
Waiting Times For Ireland’s Health Services
For a time Open Knowledge Ireland has used publicly available data from the Irish government to create a visualisation of hospital waiting list times from high value, machine readable datasets for citizens in Ireland to review hospital waiting lists and plan a response.
Waiting times for families to access ENT services in Ireland was in Sound Advice’s history, with children waiting up to five years to get hearing-aids in some counties before 2011. Many lost their brief window for learning to talk or read. Since 2014 however, children under-18 in Ireland no longer wait six years for a second cochlear implant, after a 2013 public campaign by Sound Advice and the Happy New Ear parent group.
Why Waiting Lists Matter
With today’s technology, deafness is not a disability. Waiting lists for infant hearing and speech services, can result in educational, literacy and social disadvantage when hearing issues are not addressed in their first months of life. For a positive mainstream school placement, these infants deserve the best hearing and speech services possible from birth, even if their auditory-verbal therapy is remotely delivered by therapists outside Ireland.
It’s a no-brainer. Investing in infant hearing and speech services saves public funds that otherwise might be spent on classroom assistants for these same children, later in life.
Gearing For Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
With Richard Corbridge, the HSE’s first-ever CIO (chief information officer) a fellow panelist that evening, Sound Advice suggested four new waiting lists to visualise. These were:
- Cochlear implant waiting times (suggested by OKF’s Adrian Corcoran)
- Audiology services (hospital and community based)
- Speech therapy services (all populations)
- MRI scan wait times (all populations)
As Ireland moves toward electronic health records (see interview with Richard Corbridge), the EHR will merge patient records from different parts of the HSE into one digital view, to streamline patient access to health services. Time will tell if this capital investment pays off.
- HSE tender for electronic health records management to address audiology shortfalls
- Sound Advice at Family Medicine 2.0 GP conference (Innovation and Awareness)
- Ireland’s Only Audiology Course Being Scrapped (2013)