ECRI Institute launches tool to help EHR vendors track patient safety

The new Insight Culture of Safety Assessment for Health IT Companies was built to help vendors adhere to principles of safe design, development and use when creating products.
By Mike Miliard
12:02 PM
EHR vendors track patient safety

ECRI Institute, through the multi-stakeholder Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety it convened in 2014, has announced a new tool to help electronic health record and other IT vendors assess how well they're keeping safety in mind when designing their products.

The new Insight Culture of Safety Assessment for Health IT Companies is built around a three-part safety vision, officials say: safe design and development, safe use, and safe implementation of IT for safer care.

"Ensuring a strong culture of safety can help avoid costly disruption of business and unwanted legal and regulatory actions," said Lorraine Possanza, program director for the partnership for Health IT Patient Safety, in a statement.

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[Also: Patient safety check-up: Promise, progress and a need for vigilance]

She explained that close monitoring of employees' safety-related perceptions and experiences over time, especially comparing teams and departments, can strengthen vendors' safety focus across product life cycles.

The new poll is meant as a program for IT developers to assess their own cultures of safety with questions tailored to their specific organizations, according to ECRI. A secure and confidential survey questionnaire that can allow for development and implementation of "safety-focused action plans grounded in analyses of team members' responses."

[Also: HIMSS EHR Association tackles TEFCA, opioid response, usability and safety]

The tool aims to help vendors evaluate perceptions of safety issues across their different teams and departments; assess the uptake of shared safety responsibilities; gauge the effectiveness of and needs for safety-related training and compare safety values across teams and product lines.

It can also – once enough organizations have participated to enable valid comparisons and organizational confidentiality – help companies contrast results with similar organizations using de-identified comparative data, and identify specific safety areas that may need greater attention.

"As shown in the EHR Developer Code of Conduct, patient safety is a priority of the EHRA and our members," said Sasha TerMaat, a Director at Epic and chair of the HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association's executive committee, noting surveys such as this one offer health IT developers "additional tools for continuous improvement."

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