ECRI analysis reveals HIT problems

Data transfer, data entry, system configurations and more are identified as serious problem areas for healthcare IT in a new report by ECRI Institute, a patient safety organization.

Concerned about the unintended consequences of HIT and the potential for errors to cause patient harm, ECRI Institute Patient Safety Organization (PSO) recently conducted what it calls a “PSO Deep Dive” analysis on HIT-related safety events. The organization’s 48-page report identified five potential problem areas.

[See also: ECRI Institute issues 2012 technology watch list for hospital execs.]

"Minimizing the unintended consequences of HIT systems and maximizing the potential of HIT to improve patient safety should be an ongoing focus of every healthcare organization," Karen P. Zimmer, MD, medical director, ECRI Institute PSO, said in a news release.

Based on reports submitted to the PSO from participating organizations, ECRI Institute PSO identified the following key HIT-related problems:

  • Inadequate data transfer from one HIT system to another
  • Data entry in the wrong patient record
  • Incorrect data entry in the patient record
  • Failure of the HIT system to function as intended
  • Configuration of the system in a way that can lead to mistakes

To collect enough reports for meaningful evaluation, ECRI Institute PSO asked participating organizations to submit standardized data about HIT events during a nine-week period, ECRI stated in the news release. This enabled ECRI Institute PSO to identify patterns and trends from the aggregated data and share the findings, as well as its recommendations. The data in the PSO Deep Dive represents only that collected using the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) HIT Common Formats. ECRI Institute PSO data encompasses more 800 HIT-related events.

[See also: ECRI tightens its focus on patient safety.]

According to the report, HIT must be considered in the context of the environment in which it operates during the three phases of any HIT project: planning for new or replacement systems, system implementation, and ongoing use and evaluation of the system. "Shortsighted approaches to HIT can lead to adverse consequences," caution the authors.

"Healthcare organizations should consider the findings and recommendations in the PSO Deep Dive as part of their effort to achieve those goals," added Zimmer.