Implementation of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs has led to widespread adoption of EHRs everywhere. The trigger to all this was with the Obama government encouraging the adoption of Health IT by passing the Recovery Act in 2009. In the year 2011, the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs made it possible for physicians, hospitals, and other eligible providers to draw incentives for adopting and meaningfully using certified electronic health records. Health IT, besides all the benefits that it is supposed to bring forth, also needs to ensure safety of patients. Understanding the relevance of this area, the federal government has established a communications infrastructure to capture data about IT-related patient safety events. This is expected to hugely benefit the providers since it will result in the right intervention to handle issues when they arise. Thus new systems, when they get implemented, should without fail take into account the safety of patients. Two things hold the key to achieve this; more engagement from the Patient’s end and provision for exchange of patient information among providers. Surveys conducted have indicated some common occurrences of problems which can broadly be categorized to fall under the following heads:
Information that is very coarse : generic statements
Information that's too fine : being very specific reduces chances of considering alternatives
Missing reality : only reports and numbers do not necessarily indicate the actual situation
Multiplicity : results / analysis from various sources suggesting conflicting information
These are problems which physicians encounter when they deal with Information systems in real time. What needs to be done here is to have a provision for giving feedback to system developers on a regular basis to close the loopholes. Physicians need to be empowered to suggest improvements when they observe problems. Not providing feedback and being operationally efficient in following what the systems prompt can in the long run prove to be a big pitfall for the industry.
Health IT is expected to bring about tremendous benefits to patients care. However since it involves complex technologies, there are high chances of mistakes occurring in its roll out. Information errors comprise a major chunk of the potential hazards of Health IT. From data mismatches to interoperability failures between devices and systems to distractions caused by smartphones and devices, all these have the potential to undo or spoil a lot of the positives of health IT implementation. If we take the last point into account, the event does not seem to be as fatal as the effect it ends up having. In today’s world of BYOD culture, physicians carry their own smartphones and tablets to work. It is quite obvious to have a lot of apps available in these devices in addition to the ones which are required to work with. Since a lot of these apps have live updates etc. it is quite normal to get distracted by them if one were using the device during patient visits with the apps switched on. Apart from the fact that it may lead to mistakes and missing out on relevant information, focusing more on the device might lead to not noticing vital clues in patients affecting the quality of care. The medical schools are trying to address the matted by devising special courses to help the future physicians learn about ways to integrate technology into their workflow without getting distracted or affected in ways which might prove to be detrimental.
Experts in the industry are suggesting ways by which the concern of safety in Health IT can be addressed. One such recommendations is to device a framework which can be rolled out in three phases and get combined with EHR implementation and related Meaningful Use requirements. The important thing to keep in mind is to incorporate safety into training of Healthcare providers and also into certification of software products. The software developers involved in developing these complex systems also need to be involved and explained their need to share responsibility for the safety. Finally measures should be taken to ensure that physicians find it easy and convenient to share their feedback and concerns whenever they want to. Nothing can be more vital than their feedback. Healthcare software development teams can help you build clinical and EHR/EMR software projects within allocated budgets and time schedules.