12 Apr 2013
The current absence of a standardised national demographic dataset in Ireland has resulted in health and social care providers developing their own rules for the data items they wish to collect on individuals. The consequence of this ad hoc approach is that there are several different ways to collect the same data item. A national demographic dataset is a standard set of data that uniquely and uniformly identifies each individual that avails of health and social care services.
Benefits of a national standard demographic dataset:
- safer, better care for patients from having accurate, complete demographic data for each subject of care
- an agreed understanding of what each data item means
- reduction in administration and cost as demographic data only collected once
- greater consistency and accuracy of the data collected allowing for service providers and planners to establish an accurate understanding of the logistical and demographic demands on services.
Key points from IPH response
IPH supports the development of a national standard demographic
dataset for use within the health and social care services. Provided
necessary safeguards are put in place (such as ethics and data
protection) and the purpose of collecting the information is fully
explained to subjects, mandatory provision of a minimum demographic
dataset is usually the best way to achieve the necessary coverage and
Demographic information is needed in several forms to support the public health function:
• Detailed aggregated information for comparison to population counts in order to assess equity of access to healthcare as well as examining population patterns and trends in morbidity and mortality
• Accurate demographic information for the surveillance of infectious disease outbreaks, monitoring vaccination programmes, setting priorities for public health interventions
• Linked to other data outside of health and social care such as population data, survey data, and longitudinal studies for research and analysis purposes.
• Identify and address public health issues to tackle health inequalities, and to monitor the success of such efforts to tackle them.