July 3—The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a plan designed to address the role of healthcare IT in helping to eliminate medical errors, protect patients, and improve the quality and safety of care.

The plan, which will be implemented by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), outlines the responsibilities to be shared across HHS and details how the government will work with the private sector to improve the safety of healthcare IT:

  • According to a release, the ONC will make it easier for clinicians to report health IT-related incidents and hazards through the use of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. 
  • The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will encourage reporting to Patient Safety Organizations and will develop ambulatory common formats that will enhance reporting of health IT events outside the hospital.
  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will encourage the use of the common formats in hospital incident reporting systems and will train surveyors to identify safe and unsafe practices associated with health IT.
  • Working through a public-private process, the ONC will develop priorities for improving the safety of health IT. The ONC and CMS will consider adopting safety-related objectives, measures, and capabilities for certified EHRs through the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs and ONC’s standards and certification criteria.

Additionally, under the safety plan, the Joint Commission will work to better detect and proactively address potential health IT-related safety issues across a variety of healthcare settings. Read more here

Publication Date: Wednesday, July 03, 2013