HHS releases guides for health IT safety
A new set of guides and interactive tools to help healthcare providers more safely use electronic health information technology products, such as electronic health records (EHRs), are now available online.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recently 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 follows the implementation of the HHS Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan, which was issued in July 2013, said Jacob Reider, MD, chief medical officer at ONC, in announcing the guides.
"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 said. "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."
The SAFER Guides complement existing health IT safety tools and research developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and ONC. AHRQ’s Patient Safety Organizations (PSO) have explicitly identified health IT as a high priority area because of the enormous impact EHRs are having on patient safety. PSOs are charged to help their members improve patient safety, and the SAFER Guides give them an evidence-based tool to do so.
Developed by leading health IT safety and informatics researchers, each SAFER Guide addresses a critical area associated with the safe use of EHRs through a series of self-assessment checklists, practice worksheets, and recommended practices. 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 online at http://www.HealthIT.gov/saferguide.