ONC responds to IOM report

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Farzad Mostashari, MD, National Coordinator for Health IT, recently responded to a new Institute of Medicine (IOM) report that encouraged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a plan to minimize patient safety risks associated with health IT.

“The report reaffirms years of studies… that underscored the tremendous potential of health IT to improve patient care and safety,” Mostashari wrote on the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) blog, HealthITBuzz .

He added that the IOM report, “Health IT and Patient Safety: Building Safer Systems for Better Care,” addresses how some of the complexities associated with EHRs have introduced new risks into the system.

According to Mostashari, the HHS has already taken steps to ensure patient safety, such as the creation of a health IT panel focused on safety and the development of a training curriculum for health IT professionals.

Additionally, the HHS, prompted by initiatives included in the HITECH Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), has begun working to address risks through the creation of Partnership for Patients and of accountable care organizations.

However, Mostashari agreed that more needs to be done.

“HHS agrees with IOM that more can and should be done to capture safety issues unique to EHRs when and if they arise,” he wrote on the blog posting dated Nov. 8.

Mostashari said that the ONC will lead an HHS initiative to develop plans as suggested in the IOM report and claimed that a plan will be completed well within the 12-month timeframe recommended by the IOM.

ONC and HHS will work with other federal agencies and with members of the healthcare insurance industry to formulate a plan, he concluded.