Private group to tackle health IT safety issues

A group of academic applied clinical informatics researchers are creating their own organization to address electronic health record and health IT-related safety issues.

The effort, called the Clinical Informatics Research Collaborative, or CIRCLE, intends to work to improve the understanding of issues involved in the design, development, implementation, use and evaluation of health IT, especially EHRs. Its executive director is Dean Sittig, PhD, a professor at the University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics.

Other initial collaborators include Allison McCoy, Ph.D., assistant professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, who will serve as the director of technology; Hardeep Singh, M.D., chief of the health policy quality and informatics program at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, who will be the medical director; Adam Wright, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who will serve as the director of research; and Aziz Sheikh, M.D., a professor of primary care research and development and co-director of The University of Edinburgh's Centre of Medical Informatics in Scotland. The group invites others to participate.

Sittig and Singh published a framework in September 2015 to improve measurement of health IT safety issues.

Some of the projects being addressed include work on clinical decision support, diagnostic errors and the Meaningful Use program.

"Conducting high-quality, generalizable clinical informatics research has never been more important or difficult," the group says on its website. "The increased difficulty is the result of many of the leading academic medical centers, where much of the ground-breaking clinical informatics research was done over the last 40 years, discontinuing their internal EHR development and moving to commercially-available EHR systems."

The collaborative shares some goals with the proposed federal health IT safety center, but the latter appears to be having trouble obtaining government funding, according to an article in Health Informatics. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT last summer released a five-year roadmap for the safety center, meant to be a public/private partnership.

To learn more:
- here's the website
- read the article