Website to Gather EHR Safety ReportsCollecting Information on Breaches, Software Glitches
The initiative is timely because of the 2011 kickoff of a federal EHR incentive program. Next spring, hospitals and physicians will begin to receive the first in what could amount to billions of dollars worth of incentives under the HITECH Act for making meaningful use of EHRs. The extra payments from Medicare and Medicaid could lead to much more widespread use of EHRs.
EHRevent.org is a project of the iHealth Alliance, a coalition of medical societies and malpractice insurers, working with PDR Network, a distributor of drug labeling information and product safety alerts. It's designed to accept reports of any type of patient safety issue related to using EHRs, including software problems, inadequate user training, security breaches and near misses, according to the alliance.
Organizers say they'll use the EHR reports, which will be kept confidential, to educate providers about how to improve patient safety.
"EHRevent will help us all get smarter about EHRs and assure that patient care advances are also patient-safe advances," says Nancy Dickey, M.D., iHealth Alliance chair and former president of the American Medical Association.
Also in the works is RxEvent.org, a similar system for reporting adverse drug events.
FDA to Review EHR Information
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also will use the information gathered via the new website to help evaluate any safety issues that may arise as more healthcare organizations adopt EHRs. "We look forward to working with the iHealth Alliance to encourage physicians and EHR vendors to report information on their experiences with electronic health records," says Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health.
Acknowledging the role that EHRs can play in improving the quality of care, David Troxel, M.D., medical director of The Doctor's Company, a malpractice insurer, points out that automation brings with it the possibility of new risks. "There are often unanticipated consequences when new technologies are deployed, and it is important to collect and disseminate EHR user experiences as these powerful systems are adopted," he says.
Organizers hope EHR vendors as well as Regional Extension Centers, federally funded programs helping physicians implement EHRs, will educate doctors about the value of EHR safety event reporting.