With the enactment of the Health Identifiers Act in 2014, residents and former residents in Ireland with a Personal Public Services Number (PPSN) were given an Individual Health Identifier (IHI) number.
It is used to uniquely identify each person engaging with the Health Service Executive and relevant social care agencies.
The IHI lasts for your lifetime. It is a number that is only used by healthcare staff and service providers and is never given to anyone else.
When registering for the COVID-19 vaccination your IHI was added to your record.
Benefits of the IHI
In the future, your IHI will be attached to your health records and will allow your health records to be found across different patient systems.
Future benefits of an IHI include:
- patient safety - it makes sure your health records are correctly linked together.
- efficiency - helps us to find your records quickly.
- enabling eHealth applications - allows us to link records together from different systems.
- privacy - allows us to track who has been looking at your records.
How will the IHI be used?
Your IHI can be stored on your health services provider’s computer system or may be added to paper records if no electronic system exists. It will be used in your medical record at the health service provider that you attend.
Here is an example of how your IHI will be used in the future.
After you attend your GP, your IHI will be stored locally on your medical record whether paper or electronic. Any time your GP communicates with another health service provider on your behalf, your IHI will be included in that communication.
For example, should you require a blood test, your GP will include your IHI with this request. The hospital will return both your IHI and the result of your blood test to your GP. This allows your GP to safely confirm that the results relate to you.
The privacy and security of your medical records are not impacted by the IHI.
Read more about data protection for the COVID-19 Vaccine Information System
New guide on Data protection Impact Assessments
In February 2023 we published this new guide on Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) for the Individual Health Identifier (IHI).
The continued national roll-out for the IHI brings benefits for service users, health care providers and social care providers, including
- Ensuring accuracy of data
- Scalability of ICT systems
- Efficiency of administration and service provision
- Enabling eHealth applications
- Privacy of patient personal data
- Preparedness for future emergencies e.g. another pandemic, supporting refugees
The document is a summary of several DPIAs that the HSE has commenced and concluded in relation to the IHI.
Guide on Data Protection Impact Assessments (PDF, 2 KB, 14 pages)
How long does it last?
The IHI lasts for your lifetime.
The Legal Basis for IHI
The Health Identifiers Act 2014 is the legislation that governs IHI. It means that any person, who has used, is using or may use a health and social care service in Ireland will be given an IHI.
The Health Identifiers Act 2014 does not change the current way health service providers share your medical records. Your health information is considered to be personal data under the Data Protection Acts and the rules of data protection still apply.
Frequently Asked Questions
Download questions regarding the Individual Health Identifier (IHI) number here (PDF, size 917 KB, 21 pages)
How to access your IHI number
You will never be asked for your IHI as it is just a number used to help make sure the health service identifies you correctly.
We fully acknowledge that you are entitled to know your IHI number.
For more information, email the Health Identifiers Service: firstname.lastname@example.org