Health IT and Patient Safety: Building Better Systems for Better Care
A recently published Institute of Medicine report commissioned by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) recognizes the need and opportunity for building safer systems for health IT.
“It is important to recognize that health IT products generally cannot be installed out of the box. Users need to customize products judiciously to appropriately match their needs and capabilities – in both functionality and complexity of operation. The process of implementing software is critical to optimizing value and mitigating patient safety risks. A constant, ongoing commitment to safety – from acquisition to implementation and maintenance – is needed to achieve safer, more effective care. Testing at each of these stages is needed to ensure successful use of health IT.”
The report mentions the features of safer health IT, noting that a well tested, safely implemented health IT should “provide easy entry and retrieval of data, have simple and intuitive displays, and allow data to be easily transferred among health professionals.” This is often not the case, leaving problems like a poor user interface design, workflow issues, and complex data interfaces as significant patient safety issues.
Recommendations for improving technology development and design include standardized testing procedures and safety promotion funding from the ONC, as well as collaboration between the ONC, AHRQ, and health IT vendors to significantly reduce EHR-related patient risk. “Creating safer systems begins with user-centered design principles and continues with adequate testing and quality assessments conducted in actual and/or simulated clinical environments.”
For more information, and to read the original report, click here.