Electronic Health Record :: Advisory panel for electronic health record safety

Electronic health records (EHRs) allow doctors to find the information they need to manage a patient’s care at the touch of a button. But several journal articles have reported errors related to EHR use.

As hospitals and doctors across the country adopt EHRs, they will need information on limiting such errors. To meet this need, a panel of national authorities has formed the Advisory Board of the EHR Safety Institute.

“The EHR has the potential to impact the life of every American,” said Homer Chin, MD, Medical Director for Clinical Information Systems, Kaiser Permanente Northwest Region. “We want to help healthcare providers optimize their use of information technology to enhance the quality and safety of care.”

Board members include experts from Geisinger Health System, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Kaiser Permanente Northwest Region, the Markle Foundation, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the American College of Physicians. The Board will lead the EHR Safety Institute as it develops industry-wide approaches and policies to help healthcare organizations use EHRs safely and effectively.

While the nation has begun to move toward widespread use of EHRs, now is the time to systematize the lessons learned in the first phase of EHR evolution and address safety and effectiveness of those systems, board members said.

“Many organizations are now at square one in their EHR development,” said John Tooker, MD, MBA, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the American College of Physicians. “We’ll be helping to create a roadmap for a broad range of healthcare entities, from health systems to small physician practices.”

The panel plans to define and disseminate widely applicable “best practices” that promote safe patient care, said James Walker, MD, FACP, Chief Medical Information Officer at Geisinger Health System and Director of the Institute. “We believe strongly in the benefits of EHRs and want to minimize the risk that EHR use will have adverse effects.”

“The EHR Safety Institute’s mission is to ensure that no patient is harmed by the use of an EHR,” Walker said. “Our advisory board represents many of the country’s leading experts on EHR safety. We look forward to raising awareness, filling information gaps, and establishing standards for safe EHR use.”

Some of the Institute’s goals include informing healthcare organizations, EHR vendors, and policy makers about the need for EHR safety and practical ways to deal with specific EHR safety issues. They will also consider developing an anonymous database for reporting EHR-related safety flaws; a public, internet-based directory of publications on EHR benefits and risks; and the development of a national research agenda for improving EHR safety theory and practices.

“We need to develop methods for designing, implementing and using EHRs in ways that ensure patient safety. Systems and safety engineering can help to achieve this goal,” said Pascale Carayon, Ph.D., Procter & Gamble Bascom Professor in Total Quality and Director of the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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