Health information technology (IT) is integral to healthcare today. Specifically, the health IT ecosystem includes combinations of “home-grown” legacy systems, commercial systems, and technology-driven devices (e.g., smart pumps, scales, glucometers, and anesthesia equipment). And the use of these technologies can affect patient safety—both positively and negatively.

The Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety, a multi-stakeholder collaborative convened and operated by ECRI Institute, has released a new report that examines the need for integrating health IT safety into an organization’s safety program. The practices outlined in the report recognize the unintended consequences of technology’s use and the potential to improve safety by incorporating technology.

“Health IT safety, in some ways, is like an iceberg, with the bulk of the potential safety risks, as well as the new potential safety uses, remaining hidden,” says ECRI Institute’s Lorraine Possanza, DPM, JD, MBE, program director. “Clarity and recognition will come only with additional investigation and knowledge.”

The Partnership workgroup identified issues that exist below the surface and developed three safe practice recommendations—building blocks for integrating, collaborating, and embedding (ICE) clinical safety efforts:

  • Integrate: Identify ways to integrate health IT safety into existing safety programs
  • Collaborate: Convene the necessary stakeholders, including users, vendors, organizations, and patients to actively collaborate on safety
  • Embed: Embed safety into the culture and daily workflow to achieve a unified vision of health IT safety

The Partnership’s publicly available report, Safe Practice Recommendations for Developing, Implementing, and Integrating a Health IT Safety Program, includes infographics, case examples, tools for leaders, providers, and vendors, self-assessment questionnaires, and many other resources.