Dáil Éireann - Volume 550 - 20 March, 2002
Written Answers. - Health Information Strategy.
Mrs. Owen Mrs. Owen
448. Mrs. Owen asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of doctors' practices which have been computerised with help from his Department; the amount on average which was paid to each practice; the number of applications awaiting decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9429/02]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): I fully recognise, and this is expressly echoed in the health and primary care strategies, the importance of information technology and electronic knowledge management in moving towards an integrated quality based, effective and efficient primary care health care service. The soon to be finalised health information strategy will comprehensively detail the information and related technology issues that must be addressed over the next few years.
The present position is that the national level of computerisation in general practice is approximately 80% of the estimated 1,280 practices in the State. Most of that computerisation has been achieved with grant aid support from health boards but the precise level of support varies between boards and significantly between practices. This reflects the state of practice computerisation applicable in the particular board, the size of the practice being computerised and the cost of the system being installed.
I should point out, however, that there is no absolute grant entitlement and therefore the issue of delays in processing applications does not arise, as such. Doctors are also free to use their drugs budgeting savings to assist with computerising their practices.
My Department also funds a national information technology training programme for general practitioners operated through the National GPIT Group established by the Department and having representation from health boards, the Irish College of General Practitioners and the Irish Medical Organisation. As a means of ensuring that general practitioners are kept advised of  developments in computerisation, the National GPIT Group conducted a nation-wide information mail shot to general practitioners in February and further mail shots will be undertaken in the course of this year.
Dáil Éireann 550 Written Answers. Health Information Strategy.