The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released a plan to standardize health information technology (IT) practices in an effort to eliminate medical errors and improve efficiency. Implemented by the Office of National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), it outlines the responsibilities to be shared across HHS and calls for participation from the private sector.

Called the “Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan,” the plan builds on recommendations from the 2011 Institute of Medicine report, titled “Health IT and Patient Safety: Building Safer Systems for Better Care,” and from public comments.

Many of the points in the release deal directly with ensuring quick, clear communication. Clinicians will be able to easily report health IT-related incidents and hazards using certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT). The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will encourage reporting to Patient Safety Organizations and will update its standardized reporting forms to enable ambulatory reporting of health IT events. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will encourage the use of the standardized reporting forms in hospital incident reporting systems and will train surveyors to identify safe and unsafe practices associated with health IT.

The ONC has partnered with The Joint Commission to help detect and address potential health IT-related safety issues across a variety of health care settings. The Joint Commission will expand its capacity to investigate the role of health IT as a contributing cause of adverse events and will identify high priority areas for expected types of health IT-related events.

To read the full report, click here.