EHR management tops ECRI’s list of patient safety concerns

EHR management is the number one concern facing hospitals this year, according to the ECRI Institute. (Getty/nevarpp)

Two health IT systems—EHR management and clinical decision support systems—are among the top three patient safety concerns facing hospitals in 2017.

Information management within EHRs topped the annual list published by the ECRI Institute, which identified the top ten patient safety concerns through a review of the ECRI’s incident reporting database, member root-cause analyses, a member survey and input from an expert panel.

ECRI’s report urged hospitals to “approach health IT safety holistically” by including IT management professionals and encouraging users to report concerns about EHR usability.

“Health information needs to be clear, accurate, up-to-date, readily available, and easily accessible,” said Lorraine Possanza, program director of the Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety at the ECRI Institute.

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In a study released last week, researchers in Texas urged hospitals to utilize safety huddles to address concerns about EHR failures. EHRs were also listed as a top concern in a recent survey of hospital executives released by HIMSS.

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Implementation and use of clinical decision support ranked third on ECRI’s list. These tools have been integrated into health systems to improve physician access to information, but in some cases, poor design and insufficient oversight has led to patient harm. Studies show clinical decision support tools go unused if clinicians receive too many alerts, leading some hospitals to fine-tune alerts.