CHIME Supports ONC’s Patient Safety Plan

George Hickman, EVP/CIO, Albany Medical Center

George ‘Buddy’ Hickman, EVP/CIO, Albany Medical Center

In comments submitted to the ONC yesterday, CHIME voiced its support for the agency’s  Patient Safety Action & Surveillance Plan, stating that it agrees with the proposed approach to leverage existing policy levers and programs within HHS, rather than create another federal entity to improve health IT safety.

“CHIME applauds ONC’s efforts to conceptualize its Patient Safety Plan within existing policy mechanisms and programs,” the organization said. “In particular, we support the notion that pre-existing patient safety efforts across government programs and the private sector — including those sponsored by providers, vendors and healthcare safety oversight bodies — be used as foundational leverage to strengthen health IT and patient safety.”

While CHIME advocated ONC’s involvement in designing a framework to use health IT to bolster the safety of care, the group suggested that implementing a patient safety plan should rely on a stakeholder-driven organization that included federal partners, but was not under the direct control of federal agencies.

CHIME urged the use of “voluntary consensus bodies” to facilitate agreement among healthcare stakeholders on a recognized set of standards and guidelines for patient safety in health IT.

“We believe such an organization could then be buttressed by an enhanced network of patient safety organizations that could leverage appropriately aggregated reports to encourage continuous learning,” the organization said.

CHIME also urged a more focused effort to address patient data-matching, stating that “despite years of development, no clear strategy has emerged to accurately and consistently match patient data. The results of a 2012 CHIME survey suggest that now, more than ever, action is needed to ensure the right data is matched with the right patient. Unintended injury or illness attributable to patient data-matching error is a considerable, and growing, problem in this era of health information exchange. And with a substantial portion of CIOs involved with HIEs that use differing approaches to data matching, we can expect the inconsistency and variability inherent to healthcare IT systems to persist — and become more endemic — without national leadership and consistent standards.”

Finally, CHIME stated that it doesn’t want the burden of reporting on patient safety events to fall solely on providers. The organization recommended that “ONC work with stakeholders to determine ways that reports can be compiled once and used many times. We believe there needs to be a scaleable approach that spans federal, state and private-sector reporting requirements. We want to make sure that health information is managed in a way that avoids duplicative reports to various entities and disparate data silos do not impede the learning health system that is needed to understand how health IT and patient safety interrelate.”

To access the full text of CHIME’s letter to ONC, click here.

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