Healthcare staff lack awareness of IT safety risks


The investment that is converting the US health data infrastructure into a 21st century enterprise has the potential to improve care for patients in countless ways. However, “digitizing” the health system also has the potential for harm.

This is the conclusion of a new report prepared by RAND Health for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

The project team worked with 11 hospitals and ambulatory practices to evaluate a process improvement strategy and tools developed to help healthcare organizations diagnose, monitor, and mitigate health IT–related safety risks.

“While many of the health care organizations (especially the hospitals) had expertise in process improvement, we found a general lack of awareness of health IT–related safety risks, especially in ambulatory practices,” stated the report

The report’s authors concluded that better tools are needed to help these organizations use health IT to improve care and to optimize the safety and safe use of EHRs.

It added that the SAFER Guides provide an excellent beginning, but until health care organizations have a better understanding of the safety risks posed by EHR use, tools like the SAFER Guides may not be used to their full potential.

“There may also be a need for additional tools and metrics (and further usability study of existing tools and metrics) to better support the needs of health care organizations as they use health IT to improve the quality and safety of patient care,” it added.

RAND Health, US