As the Department of Health and Human Services develops a health information technology safety strategy, the Bipartisan Policy Center has issued recommendations for an oversight framework.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology released a proposed plan for comment in December 2012. Goals included making it easier to report safety events and risks using electronic health records reporting tools, developing a code of conduct for I.T. vendors, and incorporating safety in post-market surveillance of certified EHRs.

Four former Senate Majority Leaders--Howard Baker (R), Bob Dole (R), Tom Daschle (D) and George Mitchell (D)--formed the Bipartisan Policy Center in 2007 to facilitate political consensus on national policy in several issue areas, including health care. The new report calls for a safety oversight framework based on five principles:

* Recognize and support I.T.’s important role in improving quality, safety, efficiencies and the patient experience;

* Assure that safety and positive outcomes are shared responsibilities throughout the health care system;

* Make a framework that is risk-based, flexible and will not stifle innovation;

* Leverage existing safety and quality-related processes, systems and standards; and

* Establish a non-punitive environment to encouraging reporting of safety issues, learning and improving.

The report, An Oversight Framework for Assuring Patient Safety in Health Information Technology, is available here.

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