Healthcare Technology Featured Article

September 20, 2013

EU States Using Technology to Improve Patient Safety, Risk Management

European countries, including Denmark, the United Kingdom and France, are showing significant progress in implementing patient safety and risk management systems and directives, which includes transitioning from a paper documentation system to electronic health records, according to new analysis by Frost & Sullivan.

The company found that EU member states have identified 13 directives for patient safety and nine states, including Denmark, the U.K. and France, have implemented 10 to 12 of those recommendations, which are expected to be fully enforced by 2015. The EU also aims to digitally enable its healthcare system by 2020. The region is looking to reduce statistics showing that eight to 10 percent of patients are subjected to healthcare-associated infections and medication or prescription errors and 30 to 40 percent of those issues are preventable.

"Healthcare systems in these three countries have established quality standards for the use of drugs and medical devices,” Frost & Sullivan Healthcare Research Analyst Shruthi Parakkal said in a statement released by the company. “They have also initiated a range of patient safety initiatives for national and regional incidence reporting, infection control, medication management, adverse event reporting, e-prescribing, and surveillance. The need to comply with these programs and policies will drive the uptake of healthcare IT solutions for patient safety and risk management."

Frost & Sullivan’s analysis also states that while the use IT healthcare solutions such as electronic health records is growing, the organizational culture in several healthcare facilities and hospitals in the region aren’t in favor of publishing data related to their performance. Furthermore, most patient safety plans focus on hospitals rather than primary care or safety incidents reported by patients.

"For universal adoption, it is essential that all initiatives include participation from all healthcare sectors as well as patients," Parakkal said. "The involvement of patients, especially, in recording and analyzing patient information will be crucial to decrease safety problems, such as adverse drug events and infections."

In another recent study conducted by the Universities of Leicester and Birmingham and published by Milbank Quarterly, the secondary use of electronic health data in an English hospital led to a ‘substantial and sustained’ reduction in rates of missed or delayed medicinal doses, according to Medindia. Mary Dixon-Woods, professor of medical sociology at the University of Leicester’s Department of Health Sciences, referred to this practice as “technovigilance,” or “turning data into intelligence, which can then be put into effective action.”

“Such data can have a powerful effect on improvement,” Harvard University Professor David Bates wrote in an editorial that accompanied the study. “But in a rush to computerize, tools like this are not yet a routine component of most electronic health records. The overall implication is that all hospitals will need tools like this, and soon.”

Edited by Ryan Sartor
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