News Feature | July 17, 2014

Report: ‘Lack Of Awareness" When It Comes To HIT Safety

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

HIT Safety

A report from RAND and the ECRI Institute on behalf of the ONC found in the 11 hospitals they studied, there was a “general lack of awareness of health IT- related safety risks.”

Health IT safety often takes a back burner to more pressing hospital issues, according to a report from RAND and the ECRI Institute on behalf of the ONC. Despite hospitals’ willingness to adopt the latest and greatest technologies, many are not aware of the risks associated with health IT. In some cases, the report found staff tasked with ensuring safety were also dividing their time to focus on the upcoming ICD-10 transition or Meaningful Use requirements.

“In this project, we worked with 11 hospitals and ambulatory practices to evaluate a process improvement strategy and tools developed to help healthcare organizations diagnose, monitor, and mitigate health IT–related safety risks,” write the authors.

“While many of the health care organizations (especially the hospitals) had expertise in process improvement, we found a general lack of awareness of health IT–related safety risks (especially in ambulatory practices) and concluded that better tools are needed to help these organizations use health IT to improve care and to optimize the safety and safe use of EHRs.”

Health IT Buzz writes one of the greatest challenges to promoting health IT safety is that providers see health IT as a solution to patient safety problems, ignoring the fact that health IT itself is a potential patient safety problem.

The report concluded that providers could benefit from using resources like the Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience (SAFER) Guides to jump start their campaign for health IT safety. Also, authors write, “There may also be a need for additional tools and metrics (and further usability study of existing tools and metrics) to better support the needs of healthcare organizations. ONC could additionally support efforts in this area by strengthening incentives for EHR developers to make safer health IT products and to participate with providers in risk mitigation.”