Preparation vital to cut HIT safety events


Careful preparation and implementation followed by continuous improvement and monitoring are vital in order to mitigate the risk of unintended consequences relating to Health Information Technology (HIT), according to a new report.

The report by ECRI Institute PSO called Deep Dive on Health Information Technology-Related Safety Events found that data entry in the wrong record, incorrect data entry and poor system configuration are among the leading causes of HIT-related unintended consequences.

The report recommends that when planning, implementing, or evaluating a health information technology project, one of the main considerations must be the system’s efficacy in the environment in which it will be used.

“Often a healthcare organization  implements a software upgrade without knowledge of how that software upgrade may impact other integrated systems, so preparation is key,” said Dr Karen Zimmer, medical director for ECRI Institute PSO.

She added that it is important to review the workflow processes to determine how they must be modified for the electronic environment.

“By going from paper to electronic, you are actually changing the mode of communication and you need to understand how that translates to a provider’s everyday practice,” she said.

With this in mind, she added that it is important to involve stakeholders in the process of choosing or modifying a new HIT system.

“You need front line staff - a user - in the initial group as part of that discussion,” she said.

When implementing a new system it is important to focus not only on how the system works but also on its limitations.

“You’re better off addressing the limitations during your educational training,” she said. “It would be naïve to say one system handles everything well. The reality is no one system is absolutely perfect. We need to better understand the limitations so we can address those at the front end.”


HIT, safety, Health Information Technology, Preparation, monitoring