HIMSS, AHA support ONC's patient safety plan

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Both the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and the American Hospital Association sent letters to National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari this week commenting on ONC's draft plan on patient safety, published in December. While both organizations, for the most part, supported ONC's suggestions, each had a few recommended changes.

HIMSS Chair Willa Fields and CEO H. Stephen Lieber said in their letter to Mostashari that they want to see more provider-vendor cooperation when it comes to investigation of patient safety events, as well as usability. "There are significant customizations that occur in a provider organization that can impact usability and we support providers and vendors working in tandem to address" such issues, they said.

Meanwhile, AHA Senior Vice President Linda Fishman said in her letter that her stakeholders would like to see more of a focus on a single, national approach to matching patients with their records with a goal of patient safety. "The issue of how to match patients with their medical records needs to be solved as we accelerate information on regional and national levels," she said. "The inability to match patients across silos raises safety concerns about mismatches--incorrectly matching patients, or missing a match that should have been made."

Without such an approach, Fishman said, providers--one by one--are forced to throw more time and money at the problem.

Additionally, Fishman called on ONC to devote "considerable resources" to building up data exchange infrastructure. "Key pieces of the exchange infrastructure are still missing, such as technical support for the adoption and use of standards, affordable exchange networks and widely accessible provider directories," she said. Without those, she said, health IT won't be able to reach its full potential.

In its comments to Mostashari, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives said that the patient safety plan should be facilitated stakeholders not directly under the federal government's control. "We are concerned that ONC's role in ensuring the safety of health IT may be somewhat overstated in this plan," CHIME CEO Richard Correll and board chair George Hickman wrote.

To learn more:
- here's the HIMSS letter (.pdf)
- read the AHA letter (.pdf)

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