Health Information Exchange Featured Article

February 07, 2013

ECRI Institute PSO Reports Five Major Concerns of Health Information Technology

While the federal government believes its Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act will improve patient safety and quality of care — it is spending around $19 billion in an effort to get hospitals, physician practices and other healthcare organizations to invest in its health information technology (HIT), after all — the ECRI Institute Patient Safety Organization (PSO) has concerns about the unintended consequences of HIT.

As such, the organization recently conducted a PSO Deep Dive analysis on safety news related to HIT. The resulting report, released this week, identifies five potential problem areas with the technology: inadequate data transfer from one HIT system to another, data entry in the wrong patient record, incorrect data entry in the patient record, failure of the HIT system to function as intended, and improper system configuration.

The report also states that HIT must be considered in the context of its operating environment during the three phases of its lifespan, which are planning for new or replacement systems, system implementation, and ongoing use.

To collect data for the report, ECRI Institute PSO asked participating organizations to submit standardized data about HIT events during a period of nine weeks. This information was enough to allow the ECRI Institute PSO to identify patterns and trends, as well as share findings and recommendations.

"Minimizing the unintended consequences of HIT systems and maximizing the potential of HIT to improve patient safety should be an ongoing focus of every healthcare organization," said Karen P. Zimmer, MD, MPH, FAAP, medical director, ECRI Institute PSO, in a statement.

In November, the ECRI Institute released its list of Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2013, which include alarm hazards, medication administration errors using infusion pumps, and patient data mismatches in HIT systems.

Around that time, the Institute conducted a live Web conference entitled, "Considerations for Implementing a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) Service," which discusses TAVI, a new procedure meant as a new treatment option for patients with severe aortic stenosis.

Edited by Braden Becker