ONC updates SAFER Guides to address abnormal test results, ransomware attacks

Medical health records
Updated SAFER Guides offer new recommendations to reduce harm linked to EHRs. (Photo credit: Getty/nevarpp)

Incorporating input from several national health IT organizations, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released updated SAFER Guides to improve communication of abnormal test results and prevent ransomware attacks on EHR systems.

The SAFER Guides, which have been downloaded by approximately 52,000 users since 2014, provide hospitals with a compilation of best practices to ensure EHRs do not lead to patient harm. The updates include recommendations from the Electronic Health Record Association, the National Quality Forum, the National Academy of Medicine and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), according to a post authored by three senior administrators at ONC.

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Two key updates include new recommendations to the Test Results and Follow-Up Reporting Guide that address better communication with patients following an abnormal test result and improved training for EHR users to detect a potential ransomware attack.

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EHR management led the ECRI Institute’s list of patient safety concerns in 2017 and EHRs were listed as a chief concern for healthcare providers, according to a survey released at the annual HIMSS conference in February. Meanwhile, researchers in Texas recently published a study indicating daily safety huddles can help identify and resolve EHR patient safety concerns.