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Four Organizations Plan to Form National Health IT Safety Collaborative

March 22, 2018
by Heather Landi
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Four healthcare- and patient safety-focused organizations have indicated plans to establish a national health IT safety collaborative and are urging the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to support their efforts.

In a letter to AHRQ Director Gopal Khanna, M.D. and National Coordinator Donald Rucker, M.D., the ECRI Institute, the Alliance for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety (AQIPS), the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) and The Pew Charitable Trusts stated that they have agreed on advancing a shared vision for a national health IT safety collaborative and the key characteristics needed for its success.

“Health IT plays an increasingly critical role in the delivery of healthcare services, giving patients and clinicians better information and tools to improve the quality, efficiency, and safety of care. When health IT works as intended, it improves care and patient safety; however, it also introduces new types of risk and has led to unintended consequences,” the organizations wrote in the letter.

“Like any new technology, it is imperative to identify safety challenges that result from product design, the use of systems by clinicians, customization decisions by healthcare facilities, and the interaction of different technologies,” the organizations stated.

The organizations also identified the key characteristics the success of a national health IT safety collaborative:

  • Leading efforts to collaboratively identify, examine, address, and measure progress on nationally-relevant safety concerns;
  • Advancing the principle of shared responsibility among all stakeholders by securing participation from: clinicians, hospitals, and other providers; health IT developers; patient safety organizations (PSOs); safety experts; patient representatives; and other interested organizations;
  • Aggregating data from multiple sources to identify and prioritize emerging risks for action and provide the rationale for safety improvements; and
  • Serving as a clearinghouse for health IT safety tools, solutions, best practices, and resources.

The organizations said that their shared vision builds upon previous ONC support for a health IT safety collaborative and efforts the agency has taken to help launch it, including as outlined in the commissioned report, “Health IT Safety Center Roadmap: Collaborate on Solutions, Informed by Evidence.”

According to the organizations, the ECRI Institute, which has a component PSO, has committed to building upon its existing Partnership for Health IT Safety to establish a national health IT safety collaborative to “embody the characteristics in that shared vision.” ECRI’s Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety was launched in 2013 and has more than 100 collaborators representing clinicians, hospitals, technology developers, professional societies and safety experts. “Going forward, it will work with stakeholders to formulate leadership, data and funding priorities.”

The PSO community, as represented by AQIPS, commits to supporting the development, implementation and operation of a national health IT safety collaborative. “Through their PSOs, AQIPS will coordinate the collection of data for the collaborative and help build a safer health care system. AQIPS will leverage its expertise from holding several stakeholder HIT safety summits, serving on governmental policy task forces and developing tool kits to foster collaboration throughout the healthcare system to improve patient care, safety and outcomes,” the organizations said in the letter.

What’s more, BPC and Pew plan to lend technical assistance and support to the launch of a national health IT safety collaborative.

“Over the coming months, we will engage both private and public sector stakeholders to join the National Health IT Safety Collaborative in supporting and improving health IT’s role in providing safer, higher quality care. We hope you will support our efforts by sending agency representatives to participate in the national collaborative, disseminate research findings and undertake other activities,” the organizations stated in the letter.

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