January 15, 2014
HHS makes progress on Health IT Safety Plan with release of the SAFER Guides
A new set of guides and interactive tools to help health care providers more safely use electronic health information technology products, such as electronic health records (EHRs), are now available at www.HealthIT.gov.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) at HHS today 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 health care providers and the organizations that support them assess and optimize the safety and safe use of EHRs.
The release of the SAFER Guides marks an important milestone in the implementation of the HHS Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan, which was issued in July 2013. “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,” said Jacob Reider, M.D., chief medical officer at ONC. “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 right now. PSOs are charged to help their members improve patient safety, and the SAFER Guides give them an evidence-based tool to do so.
Rigorously developed by leading health IT safety and informatics researchers and based on the latest available evidence, expert opinion, stakeholder engagement, and field work, 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. 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.
“With the release of these guides, stakeholders now have ready access to additional evidence-based knowledge and practical tools to optimize EHR safety,” said Jon White, M.D., director of AHRQ’s Health IT portfolio. “Consistent with the Health IT Safety Plan, health care providers and those who support them will use these guides to develop a culture of safety, shared responsibility, and continuous improvement around health IT.”
The SAFER Guides are available at http://www.HealthIT.gov/saferguide.