ECRI execs: Poor usability, missing safeguards lead health IT trouble spots
LAS VEGAS -- Health information technology safety is much like highway safety: It's not just the driver or vehicle that causes an accident, but often other contributing factors that culminate into bigger problems. HIT errors don't have a single culprit like product malfunction or user error - all signs point to a bigger issue and call for behavioral and industry change.
This is according to Ronni P. Solomon, executive vice president, general counsel, ECRI Institute, who opened a HIMSS16 session on Wednesday about health it safety hazards, by shedding light on elements that contribute to errors and promoting a call to action on how health IT is managed.
"Safety is a shared responsibility," Solomon said. "We know that health IT has enormous potential when integrated correctly - the opportunities are tremendous. But like any new tech, there are new hazards and we need to learn about them."
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"One unsafe configuration or implementation can affect a lot of patients," she added. "From a safety perspective, we need to know what is happening and why. But we can't manage what we don't know."
ECRI executives claim there are 10 tech safety hazards that all hospital leaders must beware. The leading contributing factor among HIT reports? Poor usability; while the leading factor in clinical decision support events is missing safeguards.
And one of the biggest points in terms of missing safeguards is the copy and paste function in the EHR systems, according to Amy Tsou, MD, Senior Research Analyst at the ECRI Institute. It's a ubiquitous function used on a daily basis, but it's incredibly simple to spread wrong data or create "note bloat."
While the function relieves some of the time spent entering data, there's a major increase in errors if providers aren't paying attention to the data.
Additionally, outdated data or other incorrect information can follow the patient through all channels, without a provided safety feature, Tsou added. There are many suggestions on how to fix this issue, but while "recommendations are great, we all know it's not easy to implement them."
Other safety hazards mentioned in the session included poor data integrity; patient misidentification; indiscriminate use of copy and paste; weight-based dosing errors; mishandling allergy data; mismatched configuration and workflow; mishandling of timed medication orders; and truncated display information.
William M. Marella, executive director, PSO Operations and Analytics at ECRI and Patricia Sengstack, chief nursing officer at Bon Secours Health System, presented their ideas on how to improve these issues, and the overwhelming theme is to talk to vendors. Improvements can be made directly to the system, such as color coding and limiting the amount of tabs allowed to be open in the system at once.
This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the HIMSS16 conference. Follow our live blog for real-time updates, and visit Destination HIMSS16 for a full rundown of our reporting from the show. For a selection of some of the best social media posts of the show, visit our Trending at #HIMSS16 hub.