Federal officials should appoint a "highly visible HIT Safety Czar" to help protect patients from adverse events caused by electronic health record (EHR) systems functioning improperly, TMA says in a letter to the director of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
The czar would "oversee, coordinate, and market health IT patient safety across the multiple organizations, programs, developers, and end users," TMA wrote in comments on the U.S. Health and Human Services Department's HIT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan. The plan is designed to prevent errors caused by EHRs.
TMA's letter, signed by Joseph Schneider, MD, head of the association's Health Information Technology Committee, says "significant patient safety risks exist now and new ones will emerge in the next one to two years as many EHR and other HIT vendors merge or go out of business. Therefore it is imperative to set mandatory deadlines and have a robust reporting and learning system in place now, not later. We are extremely concerned that the proposed plan lacks the specificity necessary for success."
It added that TMA also is "concerned that the document contains fundamental weaknesses that will cripple the effectiveness of the programs, such as reliance on voluntary reporting and funding."
Action, Feb. 15, 2013