ONC: Health IT Adoption, Use Has Improved Patient Safety

The increased adoption of electronic health records and other health IT has improved patient safety, according to an issue brief by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, Health IT Analytics reports (Bresnick, Health IT Analytics, 4/28).

The issue brief -- which is the first of four that ONC plans to publish by September 2015 -- examined four systematic literature reviews and various studies that show how health IT has influenced factors that affect patient safety (Gettinger/Kenyon, "Health IT Buzz," 4/27).

Brief Details

In a blog post about the issue brief, ONC Chief Medical Information Officer and Office of Clinical Quality and Safety acting Director Andrew Gettinger and Senior Policy Analyst Kathy Kenyon wrote that the Institute of Medicine's "To Err is Human" patient safety report recommended "health IT as part of 'redesigned systems of care.'"

They noted that in the years following the report, studies have shown that health IT has resulted in more benefits than harm.

For example, the brief cited a series of four systematic reviews conducted between 2006 and 2014, one of which found that data-driven technologies -- such as clinical decision support, computerized provider order entry and EHRs -- were associated with:

  • Better adherence to evidence-based protocols;
  • Improved capability to monitor conditions and make better-educated decisions about care utilization; and
  • Lower rates of medication errors.

Meanwhile, a 2011 study that examined health IT and patient safety literature found that:

  • About 66% of analyzed papers found that EHR implementation and use resulted in "uniformly positive outcomes"; and
  • 30% found health IT led to more positive outcomes than negative ones.

A separate 2014 report cited in the issue brief found that more than 75% of studies reviewed found "positive results" related to quality outcomes, safety and efficiency as a result of the meaningful use program.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments (Health IT Analytics, 4/28).

Source: iHealthBeat, Wednesday, April 29, 2015

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