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11/15/2010
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EHR Online Safety System Launched

iHealth Alliance-led coalition will document problems on electronic health records site related to software, user training, security and data issues.

Health IT Boosts Patient Care, Safety
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Slideshow: Health IT Boosts Patient Care, Safety

A new online safety reporting system to help doctors and other clinicians tackle issues related to the implementation of electronic health record (EHRs) has been launched by the iHealth Alliance, a not-for-profit organization, in collaboration with federal agencies, the PDR Network and other healthcare stakeholders.

At a press conference Monday in Washington D.C. to launch the website, speakers indicated that they clearly expect difficult issues to arise as healthcare delivery organizations move away from a paper-based system and accelerate their adoption of EHRs. But they noted that information collected from the site should help healthcare providers with software problems, inadequate user training, security, and data-related issues.

David Blumenthal, national coordinator for Health Information Technology, told the audience that as healthcare delivery organizations introduce EHRs, everything should be done to make certain that the implementation of the technology is easy and safe. He said the new voluntary reporting system will be important to enhancing patient safety.

“Improving safety begins with an understanding of where the threats to safety are occurring, and that means having better information. This is one way of getting that information in a prompt and actionable form,” Blumenthal said.

With that in mind, the website, EHRevent.org, uses a standard online format that will collect information from physicians and other healthcare providers who use EHRs. The information will create reports that medical societies, professional liability carriers and government agencies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), will use to help educate providers on the potential challenges that EHR systems may bring.

Nancy Dickey, iHealth Alliance chair and former president of the American Medical Association, described the establishment of the website as “an extraordinarily timely and important thing.” She also said the reporting system is being launched amid a tremendous push toward improving the adoption of electronic health records and that there is an unprecedented number of healthcare organizations and professionals that have a goal of providing safe care.

Supporters of the site include the FDA, which will use data collected by the site to help evaluate any safety issues that may surface during the widespread adoption of EHR technology.

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