App aims to streamline, enhance healthcare incident reporting

London-based researchers are testing a new app-based approach to streamline healthcare incident reporting processes while also providing needed user features, such as identification of safety issues and the ability to prioritize resources.

The Centre for Health Policy (CHP) research team, working from Imperial College London, has created CareReport, aimed at spurring incident reporting to be faster, easier and more available to users, according to a Health Affairs Blog post.

Initial prototype users described the user interface as intuitive, and results indicated it took less than five minutes to report an incident. The app enables users choose an incident type, such as an errant assessment or medicine error.

In addition, the CHP team has identified four necessary principals for incident reporting system innovation:

  1. Viability for low and middle-income user populations
  2. Low cost
  3. Interoperability
  4. A user-focused design

"Too often, healthcare innovations fail to draw upon the basic principles of design and usability that are so successful in engaging the user in the technology world," the post's authors say.

A mature incident reporting system must be able to generate feedback and serve as a portal for disseminating safety information for learning and quality improvement purposes, the authors add.

"The priorities for incident reporting systems have changed over many years since they were first introduced," they say. "Reverse engineering of these earlier developed systems is not necessarily the most effective way to promote better use of systems' data. But learning from their experience to develop new tools with a more advanced understanding is possible."

It takes strong leadership to overcome the barriers to transparency ingrained in healthcare culture so that organizations can be open about errors and mistakes that harm patients and make changes in their systems to keep them from happening again, four members of the National Patient Safety Foundation's Lucian Leape Institute recently argued in another Health Affairs Blog post. The Institute's latest report, "Shining a Light: Safer Health Care Through Transparency," defines transparency as "the free, uninhibited flow of information that is open to the scrutiny of others" and offers more than 30 recommendations for leaders of organizations, clinicians and patients, and regulatory and accrediting bodies.

For more information:
- read the Health Affairs blog