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HHS releases health IT safety plan

July 08, 2013
Compliance By LW Consulting Inc.

Patient safety should always be a top priority for any healthcare organization. With more medical facilities relying on electronic health records, the risk of online data breaches and system-related medical errors has increased. In response, it is necessary for security measures to also increase.

That was the mindset behind the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with its finalization of a health IT safety plan, which will ideally eliminate medical errors. According to a company press release, the final Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan encourages facilities to take more responsibility while focusing on three key areas: learning, improving and leading.

"When implemented and used properly, health IT is an important tool in finding and avoiding medical errors and protecting patients," National Coordinator for Health IT Dr. Farzad Mostashari, said in the press release. "This Plan will help us make sure that these new technologies are used to make healthcare safer."

Essentially, the safety plan is designed to teach healthcare organization staff members best practices so they can make improvements and then lead by example.

The Office of National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) will make it easier to report health IT-related incidents through certified EHR technology. Furthermore, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will encourage facilities to use standardized forms in hospital incident reporting systems. Surveyors will also be taught to identify safe—and unsafe—practices with health IT.

As initiatives like this become more common, hospitals can partner with a healthcare IT consulting firm to ensure that the transition is seamless. When all staff members understand new systems, it will be easier to keep patients safe and their information secure.