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ONC offers guidance on curbing IT safety risks


By Jaimy Lee
Posted: January 16, 2014 - 2:45 pm ET
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HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology released a set of guides aimed at helping hospitals and ambulatory-care centers evaluate and lower safety risks associated with health information technology systems.

The Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience guides provide sets of checklists and recommend methods to deal with safety risks that healthcare providers identify in their health IT systems or electronic health records.

The guides are part of a broader HHS initiative to ensure that health IT systems are safely implemented and then used to improve patients' quality of care. The initiative, called the Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan, came out in July.

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“We've learned that there is a great deal of variability in how information technology is implemented and optimized in care delivery organizations, and this variability may account for some of the problems with the safety and reliability of health IT,” said Dr. Jacob Reider, chief medical officer at the ONC.

HHS recommends that healthcare providers go through each of the nine guide's checklists and worksheets in chronological order, starting with high-priority practices, according to Jonathan French, director of healthcare information systems-quality and patient safety initiatives for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. Other guides focus on computerized physician order entry with decision support and contingency planning.

The guides are expected to aid hospitals as they implement EHR systems and new workflows and also help prevent errors and other adverse events.

The guides' tools and checklists allow organizations to conduct a risk analysis and identify strengths and weaknesses in their health IT implementation and workflows, French said.

Follow Jaimy Lee on Twitter: @MHjlee


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