News Feature | July 10, 2013

HHS Aims To Reduce Health IT Errors

Source: Health IT Outcomes

By Lisa Kerner, contributing writer

New plan to guide health IT provides venue for clinicians to report incidents using CEHRT

A Wolters Kluwer Health survey released last August indicates a majority of Americans trust that technology will help reduce medical mistakes such as misdiagnosis, incorrect medication, or incorrect treatment. Just over two-thirds of the 1,000 adults over age 18 surveyed believe that medical errors should decrease as healthcare continues to adopt new technologies.

HHS, in an effort to ensure that the faith of the American public is not misplaced, released its final Health Information Technology Patient Safety Action & Surveillance Plan last week to “guide health information technology (IT) activities across the HHS to eliminate medical errors, protect patients, and improve the quality and efficiency of health care.” According to the plan, HHS will “leverage the Meaningful Use and Health IT Certification Programs to align private sector efforts with national patient safety priorities.”

The Office of National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) will direct the plan, according to an HHS news release. Clinicians will be able to report health IT-related incidents using certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) while CMS will encourage the use of the standardized reporting forms in hospital incident reporting systems. “When implemented and used properly, health IT is an important tool in finding and avoiding medical errors and protecting patients,” said National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, M.D. in the release.

In addition, ONC has contracted with The Joint Commission “to better detect and proactively address potential health IT-related safety issues across a variety of health care settings.” Under its contract, the commission will conduct at least 10 investigations of health IT-related events. In addition, it will develop tools and resources to help healthcare providers identify, report, and correct such events.

The American College of Physician Executives (ACPE), which represents more than 11,000 high-level physician leaders and has a strong commitment to expanding and improving the use of information technology, announced its support of the HHS plan. ACPE CEO Peter Angood, M.D., called the plan “a critically important step forward in making our healthcare system safer and more reliable.”