Patient safety organization ECRI Institute has brought together 10 other PSOs and six associations, as well as a group of provider organizations and software vendors, to create a national framework for proactively identifying health information technology safety issues.

The goal is to improve on present individual efforts to improve safety in a vacuum by setting up a non-punitive national environment for finding and acting on safety issues, says Ronni Solomon, executive vice president and general counsel at ECRI, which is acting as the convener for the project. Patient safety organizations have at times worked together in the past, but now are “shining the spotlight together,” she adds.

ECRI has built two web-based systems to receive data from providers, vendors and PSOs, and the associations will promote the effort among their members and disseminate information. “Our goal is to figure out what kinds of events are happening and why, and how we can improve on them,” Solomon says. ECRI was formed 40 years ago to focus on medical device safety and now finds the industry in a similar place with electronic health records 40 years later, she adds. As the x-ray and other devices became healthcare game-changers in the past, EHRs are a game-changer now “but with unintended consequences that must be understood.”

Participating PSOs in addition to ECRI include California Hospital PSO, Institute for Safer Medication Practices, Kentucky Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, Michigan Hospital Association PSO, Midwest Alliance for Patient Safety, National Patient Safety Foundation, Ohio Patient Safety Institute, PSO of Florida, Tennessee Center for Patient Safety and Virginia PSO.

Participating associations are the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, American College of Physician Executives, American Health Information Management Association, Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems, American Medical Informatics Association, and Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

Major EHR vendors, as well as hospitals and physician practices of all types also are on board, Solomon says. These participants have not yet been identified as ECRI continues to receive permission from them to be named.

The Partnership for Promoting Health IT Patient Safety kicked off at HIMSS14 in February as stakeholders gathered to find agreement and start putting the pieces together. Government regulators are not formal members, but are expected to help inform members as they develop strategy and determine what makes good reporting systems. The federal government’s data collection on patient safety generally is device-specific, whereas the partnership is looking at the whole scope of EHR safety issues including incorrect data input, record retrieval processes, functions and interoperability, among other factors, Solomon notes.

The partnership also includes a nine-member advisory panel of patient safety experts who are not representing their organizations but volunteering as independent experts. The advisory members are:

* David Bates, M.D., Brigham and Women’s Hospital;

* Pascale Carayon, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering;

* Tejal Gandhi, M.D., National Patient Safety Foundation;

* Terhilda Garrido, MPH, Kaiser Permanente.

* Chris Lehmann, M.D., Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University Medical Center;

* Nancy Leveson, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology;

* Peter Pronovost, M.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine;

* Hardeep Singh, M.D., Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center;

* Dean Sittig, PhD, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston; and

More information is available at pso@ecri.org.

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