HHS moves toward safer electronic health records

The department's new road map aims to improve data quality.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released a road map for making electronic health records and other health IT safer for patients.

The Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan was released Friday by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). The draft plan recommends actions organized under three strategies, according to an HHS news release: increasing the quantity and quality of data about health IT safety; targeting resources and corrective actions to improve safety; and promoting a culture of health IT safety.

Strategies in the document, as outlined in a fact sheet, include:

  • Continuously improving the safety of health IT by developing a code of conduct for IT developers, supporting providers in reporting adverse events, creating a forum for health IT users to compare their experiences, and leveraging surveillance and live testing opportunities available through ONC authorized accrediting bodies.
  • Using Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Common Formats to facilitate real-time reporting and aggregation of patient safety issues.
  • Including health IT and patient safety in Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) health-care facility safety standards.
  • Further incorporating safety requirements into CMS’s EHR meaningful-use standards, and ONC’s standards and certification criteria.
  • Planning an ONC-led public-private effort to identify priorities, measures and targets for health IT safety, and HHS support for developing technology to mitigate health IT safety risks.
  • Establishing an ONC safety program to analyze reported data and establish a multi-agency HHS health IT safety committee.
  • ONC, Food and Drug Administration and Federal Communications Commission collaboration for a health IT safety regulatory framework.

“This report will help all of us better use health IT to deliver high quality care and improve patient safety,” said Dr. Farzad Mostashari, national coordinator for health IT.

Comments on the draft are due by Feb. 4.