ONC Releases Latest Health IT Safety Plan

July 5, 2013

On Tuesday, July 2, 2013, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released its “Health Information Technology Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan.”  

The Safety Plan, which details policy actions for the ONC for future health IT development and implementation, the role health IT plays in, “eliminate[ing] medical errors, protect[ing] patients and improve[ing] the quality and safety of health care.”  It also emphasizes the security and quality of the IT infrastructure itself and how those qualities are crucial to the administration and delivery of quality healthcare.

According to the news release from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the success of the Safety Plan’s policies will depend on the collaboration between the public and private sectors involved in the development and implementation of health IT.  Some of the Plan’s policies necessitating such efforts include: 1) The ONC’s facilitation of reporting “health IT-related incidents and hazards” via certified electronic health records, 2) The plan of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to train surveyors in recognizing health IT hazards, and 3) the adoption of safety-related criteria for EHRs in CMS’s EHR Incentive Programs. 

This plan also cites the  EHR Developer Code of Conduct developed by the HIMSS Electronic Health Records Association (EHRA), which emphasized the responsibility of the EHR developer in ensuring patient safety as well as system interoperability, a stance that ONC supports.  Furthermore, in the plan, HIMSS was listed as a professional forum for the establishment of “[w]orkgroups or common interest groups” for policy and developmental research.

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