Health and Human Services addresses health IT safety plan with SAFER guides
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is offering providers new tools to encourage safer use of electronic health records (EHRs).
A new set of guides and interactive tools to help healthcare providers more safely use electronic health information technology products, such as EHRs, is now available free of charge to healthcare providers.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) at HHS released the Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience (SAFER) Guides. These guides are a suite of tools that include checklists and recommended practices designed to help healthcare providers and the organizations that support them assess and optimize the safety and safe use of EHRs.
The release of the SAFER Guides is part of the implementation of the HHS Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan, which was issued in July 2013, explains Jacob Reider, MD, chief medical officer at ONC. "A basic premise of the Health IT Safety Plan is that all stakeholders have a shared responsibility to make sure that health IT is safely implemented and that it is used to improve patient safety and care," Reider says. "The SAFER Guides combine the latest applied knowledge of health IT safety with practical tools that will help providers — working closely with EHR developers, diagnostic service providers, and others — effectively assess and optimize the safety and safe use of EHR technology within their organizations."
Each SAFER Guide addresses a critical area associated with the safe use of EHRs. Areas addressed include:
- high priority practices;
- organizational responsibilities;
- patient identification;
- computerized physician order entry (CPOE) with decision support;
- test results review and follow-up;
- clinician communication;
- contingency planning;
- system interfaces;
- system configuration.
Each SAFER Guide has extensive references and is available as a downloadable PDF and as an interactive Web-based tool. The SAFER Guides are available at http://www.HealthIT.gov/saferguide.