Cooperation between software companies and physicians was urged by the Obama administration before the close of the year in an attempt to ensure protection of patients from faulty electronic records. While the administration did not call for a federal regulation to report electronic mistakes, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is taking the issue of patient safety seriously and is calling on the private sector to take action as well. To ensure a culture of safety, the government, health IT industry, patient safety organizations and health care providers must share responsibility in the protection of patients.
The HHS stands behind the claim that when used correctly, Health Information Technology can improve the quality of care, eliminate medical errors, and protect patients by making the health care system more efficient. Last week, they released the Health IT Patient Safety and Surveillance Plan which builds on the Department’s overall commitment to patient safety. Open for public comment through February 4, 2013, the plan addresses recommendations made in the 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report, Health IT and Patient Safety: Building Safer Systems for Better Care.
The National Coordinator for Health IT, Farzad Mostashari, M.D., says that the report will help all of those working in health IT and the entire health care system to deliver high quality care and improve patient safety. Mostashari and the HHS expressed that when clinicians and vendors report any mistakes or adverse events, they provide data for the developers, providers, researchers and policymakers to improve the safety of health IT. “We are saying to the vendors: Step up and prove your ability to create a code of conduct that would be enforceable, that would bind you voluntarily to reporting safety events,” he said.
Arthur Levin, director of the Center for Medical Consumers, expressed that the actions being taken are relying heavily on the goodwill of everyone involved, especially the vendor industry. Levin makes a good point. In this electronic day and age, health care providers absolutely must be selective about the systems they use and the vendors they work with. It is imperative to collaborate with a company that can be trusted to protect not only the physician and their practice, but the patients under their care. Electronic health records are applauded as more reliable and efficient than paper files because they allow clinical information to follow the patient from one caregiver to another, but a physician cannot pick an EHR system at random and expect good results. Researching and trusting the company that they will embark on the health IT journey with is crucial.
Mostashari says that the portion of patient safety events directly or indirectly caused by health IT is very small right now. At Hello Health, we are dedicated to keeping those numbers down. The architecture of our platform allows patient data to be stored centrally and efficiently reported, tracked and aggregated within and across various multiple practices. Crucial health information can be safely accessed from multiple locations and gives providers an “All you need to know” access to their patients at the touch of a button. Each time a physician signs on with our EHR system, they receive an entire team dedicated to the safety, efficiency, and functionality of their practice.
Ali Dufour is the Director of Research and Development at Hello Health, the revenue generating EHR platform for primary care practices supporting practice vitality through patient engagement and electronic medical revenue.