ECRI Report: Health IT Solutions to Reduce Errors in Medicine

Megan Brooks

July 31, 2018

A new report from the ECRI Institute highlights ways that information technology (IT) can reduce and eliminate medication mix-ups and errors from diagnostic testing.

The report, Health IT Safe Practices for Closing the Loop, is from the Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety, a multistakeholder collaborative run by the ECRI Institute, a nonprofit research organization.

The partnership convened a workgroup led by Christoph Lehmann, MD, of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, to address safety issues related to tracking diagnostic test results and medication changes — long-standing challenges in healthcare often referred to as "closing the loop," the ECRI Institute said in a news release.

"The problem of not closing the loop has a significant impact on patients and caregivers and can lead to devastating effects on the outcome of patients," Lehmann said in the release.

The report is based on reported events from the ECRI Institute's Patient Safety Organization's database of more than 2 million adverse events and an evidence-based literature review and analysis by the work group.

The group focused on identifying ways for health IT to reduce missed, delayed, and incorrect diagnoses on diagnostic testing results and errors involving medication changes. The report includes detailed implementation strategies based on three key safe practice recommendations:

  • Develop and apply IT solutions to communicate the right information (including data needed for interpretation) to the right people, at the right time, in the right format

  • Implement health IT solutions to track key areas

  • Use health IT to link and acknowledge the review of information and the documentation of the action taken

"The goal of this partnership work group was to look for technology solutions that all stakeholders could implement to close the loop — the tools provided [in the report] will help to do just that," said Lorraine Possanza, of the ECRI Institute. The toolkit is available online for use by healthcare systems worldwide.

The new report is the fourth in a series of safe practices toolkits published by Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety since 2014.

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