Patient safety the focus of EHRA vendor code of conduct

After months of speculation, the HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association has released its EHR Developer Code of Conduct to promote a "transparent set of principles" governing the EHR vendor industry.

The Code of Conduct, which is voluntary, is offered by EHRA "as a reflection of our industry's ongoing commitment to collaborate as trusted partners with all stakeholders," the association says on its website. It focuses on the following areas:

  • General business practices
  • Patient safety
  • Interoperability and data portability
  • Clinical and billing documentation
  • Privacy and security
  • Patient engagement

EHRA also issued frequently asked questions and implementation guidelines for EHR developers, such as leadership involvement and company promotion.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) had originally recommended that EHR developers be required to report adverse patient safety events. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, in developing its own draft heath IT patient safety plan in December 2012, did not go that far, suggesting instead that the vendor industry create a voluntary code of conduct.

EHRA's document gives a nod to IOM's concerns, noting that it's "committed" to product design, development and deployment in support of patient safety, that vendors will participate with patient safety organizations, and will notify users of software issues that would "materially" affect safety.

Initial reaction from the vendor industry has been positive, with Siemens Healthcare CEO John Glaser calling the code of conduct an "important milestone in the maturation of the healthcare information technology industry," in a released statement.

To learn more:
- read the code of conduct (.pdf)
- here's the fact sheet