ONC Releases Roadmap To Form National Health IT Safety Center

July 20, 2015 in News

On Friday, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT released a roadmap for creating a national center aimed at improving the safety of health IT, Healthcare Informatics reports (Raths, Healthcare Informatics, 7/17).

Roadmap Details

The Health IT Safety Center Roadmap was developed by RTI International. RTI appointed a task force of stakeholders and held a series of advisory meetings to help draft and reach final consensus on the roadmap.

The roadmap details:

  • Adverse events that need to be identified;
  • Circumstances that lead to adverse events that need to be addressed; and
  • Steps that need to be taken to address new health IT safety concerns.

Safety Center Roadmap Details

In a “Health IT Buzz” blog post, Andrew Gettinger — CMO and acting director of ONC’s Office of Clinical Quality and Safety — wrote that the roadmap “envision[s]” the “Health IT Safety Center as a trusted convener of public and private stakeholders to create a learning health system for health IT and patient safety.” The center will aim to “promote health IT safety by convening interested parties, doing focused work to identify and disseminate best practices, and serve as the leading voice in addressing patient safety generally and health IT-related safety issues” (Gettinger, “Health IT Buzz,” 7/17).

Specifically, the center would be committed to two main objectives:

  • Continuously working to advance the safety of health IT; and
  • Leveraging health IT to improve the safe delivery of care (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 7/20).

In the roadmap, task force members said the safety center should encourage improved reporting of health IT-related adverse events through:

  • Better training;
  • Easier reporting mechanisms that are more efficiently integrated into workflows; and
  • Fewer reporting barriers.

Further, the task force advocated for industry tools that foster automated detection, identification and reporting of safety concerns, such as:

  • Computerized point-of-entry evaluation tools, which use electronic health record data to bolster detection of possible adverse events; and
  • “[T]rigger tools,” which use EHR data to pinpoint adverse events.

Meanwhile, the task force stressed the safety center would not:

  • Directly collect data;
  • Operate or fund the operations of patient safety groups;
  • Perform activities that should be conducted by federal entities, such as regulatory authorities or establishing government programs;
  • Serve as a federal advisory committee; or
  • Take part in direct investigation or surveillance.

According to the roadmap, the Health IT Safety Center would need between $17.8 million and $20.6 million in federal funding to operate for five years. After that time, the organization would look to develop models for sustainable funding (Healthcare Informatics, 7/17).

According to “Health IT Buzz,” ONC will review suggestions on the roadmap to determine any next steps that should be taken (“Health IT Buzz,” 7/17).

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