Federal panel wants national reporting on EMR software, data errors

The Adoption/Certification Workgroup of the federal Health IT Policy Committee wants to require hospitals and physicians to report "hazards and near-misses" as a result of software malfunctions, beginning in 2013. Reporting would become part of demonstrating "meaningful use" of EMRs and thus a condition for receiving Medicare and Medicaid bonus payments.

While some would like to see a database on EMR and data glitches up and running sooner than that, some patient-safety advocates believe 2013 is unrealistic. "I think it will take a while to do this right," UCSF physician Dr. Robert M. Wachter tells the Huffington Post Investigative Fund. "The problem here is that there are potentially dangerous systems and we have no mechanism to figure out what they are or to force them to improve," he adds.

The database could help pull together an uncoordinated group of existing public and private data repositories, such as the voluntary reporting system the FDA runs to track issues with devices it regulates. However, that system, like many others, has limited public access and redacts any fields that could identify the reporting organization.

The workgroup envisions a reporting system in which patients are encouraged to report errors and omissions in their own medical records and recommends that vendors include "feedback" buttons so they can report problems with a single click.

To learn more:
- see this Huffington Post Investigative Fund story
- check out this take from Federal Computer Week