The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology anticipates releasing a final health information technology safety plan by early summer, officials announced on March 5 at HIMSS13 in New Orleans.

ONC released a draft plan in December and accepted public comment until February 4. The draft followed an Institute of Medicine report that ONC commissioned that highlighted the need for better understanding of the HIT impacts on safety, as well as shared responsibilities among all stakeholders to improve safety, Jodi Daniel, director of the ONC office of policy and planning, said during an educational session.

There is little doubt that use of I.T. results in fewer medical errors, particularly medication-related because of electronic prescriptions and clinical decision support, noted Jacob Reider, M.D., chief medical officer at ONC. “It’s obvious that in many areas there will be fewer errors, but at the same time, in other areas there will be more errors.” Consequently, a priority of the plan will be implementing a framework to help the industry better understand what the trouble areas will be as I.T. use increases.

Less than 1 percent of patient safety events are related to HIT, Reider contended, but the industry needs more data to better understand the level of harm from such events and how to improve the technology. HIT-related errors, he reminded the audience, are not always the fault of vendors; providers can introduce risk when customizing their systems.


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