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ONC Publishes Two New Reports on Health IT Safety

June 14, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has recently published two reports on health IT safety as the agency continues to make strides towards the optimization of the safety and safe use of electronic health records (EHRs).

The first report examines the most recent evidence in the field of health IT safety. According to a blog post from Andrew Gettinger, M.D., CMIO, director, office of clinical quality and safety, this broad survey identifies gaps in research; encourages the development or refinement of existing tools or interventions that could enhance the safety and safe use of health IT; highlights information about the types, frequency and severity of safety events, issues related to usability and interoperability, and tools and interventions that can improve safety.

Meanwhile, the second report provides recommendations and suggested solutions to potential safety issues. “It is an excellent resource for anyone looking to set their health IT safety goals and priorities, as it provides practical, actionable steps that can be implemented to help reduce the potential of health IT-related adverse events,” according to the blog post from Gettinger.

Taken together, these reports highlight two key elements of health IT safety that inform ONC’s work across the board, Gettinger wrote:

  • Evidence continues to indicate that health IT safety is dependent not just on EHR systems themselves, but on a complex interplay of factors, including an institution’s leadership, culture, readiness, installation practices, training, and handling of upgrades.  Improving safety requires attention to all of these areas.
  • Efforts to enhance usability and interoperability across the health IT landscape also provide important opportunities to improve the safe use and safety of health IT.

The post concluded, “We know that we can help to reduce the potential of health IT-related safety events to ensure better outcomes for patients. Working together, we have a tremendous opportunity to improve healthcare by improving the safety of health IT. I encourage our health IT stakeholders to download and read these two reports and put the other tools we have developed to work.”

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