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EHR Report - IT not the Biggest Risk

12/17/2012 by: The SunView Team

On December 9, 2012, the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority issued a report, "The Role of the Electronic Health Record in Patient Safety Events." We all know that the implementation of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) has been a hot topic in the medical industry's IT Organizations for the past few years.

In 2009, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act or HITECH Act became law. Since that time, one of the key drivers for moving to EHRs is the financial incentives which are part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. All major IT changes require thorough planning, preparation and testing prior to Implementation. EHR is no exception.

If you are planning to implement a new EHR within your organization, the first step should be the implementation of a change and release ITSM solution. Check out the offer below.

The introduction to the report shows that the current adoption rate is on a good pace:

"Adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs) and electronic health records (EHRs)* in US healthcare facilities is growing: HIMSS Analytics reports that, as of the second quarter of 2012, over three-quarters of US healthcare facilities have achieved at least stage 3 of their seven-stage EMR Adoption Model.1 Stage 3 reflects a facility having the cumulative capabilities for electronic flowcharts, error checking, and picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) available outside of the radiology department.1 However, as adoption grows, so does concern over the potential safety implications of these systems."

The great news is that the report does not point a finger directly at the IT Organization.

"Among the problems this study identified, are data entry errors not caught by the system, data entered into wrong fields, misreading or misinterpreting displayed information and providers incorrectly accepting default values when entering orders. Overall, almost four thousand problems were identified in the little more than three thousand reports analyzed. This analysis lays the groundwork for more focused studies of individual EHR safety issues," Bill Marella, program director for the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority said.

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One of the examples in the report, however, lists 4 errors in a pharmacy input, 2 were system related:

  • 2.2, system interface issues, because the interface between the pharmacy and Bridge systems changed the order settings
  • 3.3, output/display error, because the Bridge system output an incorrect start time
  • 3.4.2, missing data (did not look at complete record), because the nurse did not confirm correct order entry
  •, software issue-system configuration-default, because the Bridge system was configured to change to a default start time

If you have been considering the implementation of an EHR system or improving your current system, this study really points a finger at the weakest link, users. In IT, we didn't need a report to tell us that. But, there are areas for IT improvement. What changes would you suggest to positively impact these critical EHR errors? If you have suggestions, please share them with your fellow readers.

Read the entire EHR study from the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisory.