NQF issues guidance on measurement of HIT patient-safety efforts

The National Quality Forum (NQF) has issued a new report on health IT safety and how to measure it.

The 99-page guidance offers a framework for determining the effect of health IT on patient safety and prioritizes key measurement areas, according to an announcement.

The guidance is the product of a committee of 22 health IT and safety experts that the NQF convened on the topic. It is based on three high-level concepts:

  • Safe health IT: To ensure that health IT is accessible and usable as needed and that health IT data are complete, accurate, secure and protected.
  • Using health IT safely: To ensure that features and functionality are used as intended and that there are procedures in place to monitor and detect problems.
  • Improving patient safety: To ensure that health IT is used to reduce patient harm and improve safe patient care.

The committee also identified nine key measurement areas, including patient identification, system interoperability, system downtime (data availability) and use of health IT for timely and high-quality documentation. The suggested measurement areas are works in progress, NQF warns, with much work yet to be done in that area.

"Advancing the safety and safe use of HIT will require stakeholders to share responsibility and accountability for patient safety," the report's authors write. "This may require a substantial cultural shift for the many groups involved in the development and use of HIT systems."

NQF notes that heath IT is evolving rapidly and offers the opportunity to ensure that patient safety considerations are incorporated into all phases of the HIT lifecycle.

Authors from the Houston Veterans Affairs Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety and elsewhere have urged a switch in the Meaningful Use program to a focus on patient safety.

Hospital culture is the place to start, according to Catherine Miller, R.N., senior risk management and patient safety specialist for the Cooperative of American Physicians.

To learn more:
- download the report (.pdf)
- here's the announcement