Perhaps the early feedback from the "Unintended Consequences of Health IT" study plus the accumulated evidence from the ONC's 2005 and 2007 EHRs and fraud studies and recommendations is beginning to weigh toward a more rational and analytical approach to health IT uptake. Because HITECH is funding accelerated health IT implementations in advance of meaningful industry use of EHR standards, this is the first evidence of ONC consideration of the risks to patient safety inherent in this vast experimental use of unproven technologies in patient care.
This is a very welcome early indicator that emerging patient-safety issues are also driving a more thoughtful approach to the prior irrational exuberance for all things health IT. This will incrementally help accelerate EHR uptake by making sure there is at least a small increase in market transparency, highlighting the continued necessity of due diligence to ensure these still nonstandardized systems are thoroughly tested by potential purchasers to make sure they actually provide safe, reliable and accurate patient-care records.
Unfortunately, adherence to well-established requirements for record accuracy still remains outside the stated purpose and mission of EHR certification, so this task remains the entire responsibility (and the liability risk) of the user. I hope we can soon read more about who spearheaded this initiative, so we can all convey to them our thanks.
Reed D. Gelzer, M.D.
Advocates for Documentation Integrity & ComplianceWallingford, Conn.