I was recently asked by an Institute of Medicine committee to comment about the impact of healthcare information technologies (HIT) on patient safety and how to maximize the safety of HIT-assisted care.
“HIT-assisted care” means health care and services that incorporate and take advantage of health information technologies and health information exchange for the purpose of improving the processes and outcomes of health care services. HIT-assisted care includes care supported by and involving: EHRs, clinical decision support, computerized provider order entry, health information exchange, patient engagement technologies, and other health information technology used in clinical care.
There are two separate questions:
1. What technologies, properly used, improve safety?
2. Given that automation can introduce new types of errors, what can be done to ensure that HIT itself is safe?
To explore these topics, let’s take a look at Health Information Exchange (HIE). What HIE technologies improve safety and how can we ensure the technologies are safe to use?