5 principles for safely implementing health IT

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While health IT and electronic medical records (EMRs) have reduced medication errors and improved care efficiency, incorrect implementation of such systems can lead to medication errors, misdiagnoses and treatment complications.

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a Washington D.C.-based a non-profit organization pursuing politically viable policy solutions, addressed such issues in its report, Patient Safety and Information Technology: Improving Information Technology’s Role in Providing Safer Care.”

The group introduced five key principles for healthcare providers introducing an IT framework. They are:

  1. Health IT safety should be integrated into broader patient safety efforts: “Effort associated with health IT safety should not be siloed, but instead aligned with and integrated into broader patient safety efforts and programs.”
  2. Patient safety efforts should address the entire health IT life cycle: “Actions taken around maintenance, upgrades, and operations associated with health IT can also have an impact on safety. Patient safety efforts should focus on the entire life cycle of health IT.”
  3. Patient safety is a shared responsibility: “The quality of the data, the interoperability of systems and level of information sharing, and the appropriateness of clinical interventions also have an impact on safety. Education, training, and proficiency of users can also play a critical role.”
  4. A non-punitive, learning systems approach will drive improvement: “Voluntary reporting, combined with root-cause analysis, enables a greater understanding of the cause of errors and near-misses, and the ability to develop and widely disseminate solutions to prevent or address such errors, and facilitate widespread improvement.”
  5. Health IT safety approaches should be evidence-based and data-driven: “he aggregation and analysis of information from across many organizations is necessary to identify, characterize and prioritize issues that will benefit from further action.”

The report then offered three recommendations for the implementation and use of IT.

  1. Launch a coordinated leadership effort to set health IT safety priorities.
  2. Accelerate widespread dissemination of existing best practices and tools that address safety issues and gaps.
  3. Continue to advance the development and adoption of standards.

Click here to download the complete report.