New ONC reports focus on health IT safety

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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has published two new guidance reports to help providers address health IT and patient safety, Andrew Gettinger, the agency's chief medical information officer and director of the office of clinical quality and safety, shared in a recent blog post.

The first report examines the most recent evidence on health IT and patient safety. It identifies gaps in research, encourages the development or refinement of existing tools or interventions that could enhance the safe use of health IT, highlights information about the types and frequency of safety events and addresses the usability and interoperability issues. For instance, it discusses patient identification problems and how clinical decision support can both enhance patient safety and adversely impact it due to alert fatigue.

The second report provides recommendation and solutions to potential safety issues, such as workflow, communication and medication management.

The two reports, according to Gettinger, highlight that health IT is dependent, not just on the EHR system, but also on additional complex factors, including an institution’s leadership, culture, readiness, installation practices, training and handling of upgrades. In addition, improving usability and interoperability provides “important opportunities” to improve the safe use and safety of health IT. They are just the latest tools issued by ONC to bolster patient safety across the health IT community.

“We know that we can help to reduce the potential of health IT-related safety events to ensure better outcomes for patients," Gettinger says. "Working together, we have a tremendous opportunity to improve health care by improving the safety of health IT. I encourage our health IT stakeholders to download and read these two reports and put the other tools we have developed to work."

To learn more:
- here's Gettinger's post
- check out the reports here and here