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Measuring and improving patient safety through health information technology: The Health IT Safety Framework
  1. Hardeep Singh1,
  2. Dean F Sittig2
  1. 1Houston Veterans Affairs Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety, Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA, Houston, Texas, USA
  2. 2UTHealth – Memorial Hermann Center for Healthcare Qualty and Safety, School of Biomedical Informatics, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hardeep Singh, 2002 Holcombe Blvd, 152, Houston, TX 77030, USA; hardeeps{at}bcm.edu

Abstract

Health information technology (health IT) has potential to improve patient safety but its implementation and use has led to unintended consequences and new safety concerns. A key challenge to improving safety in health IT-enabled healthcare systems is to develop valid, feasible strategies to measure safety concerns at the intersection of health IT and patient safety. In response to the fundamental conceptual and methodological gaps related to both defining and measuring health IT-related patient safety, we propose a new framework, the Health IT Safety (HITS) measurement framework, to provide a conceptual foundation for health IT-related patient safety measurement, monitoring, and improvement. The HITS framework follows both Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) and sociotechnical approaches and calls for new measures and measurement activities to address safety concerns in three related domains: 1) concerns that are unique and specific to technology (e.g., to address unsafe health IT related to unavailable or malfunctioning hardware or software); 2) concerns created by the failure to use health IT appropriately or by misuse of health IT (e.g. to reduce nuisance alerts in the electronic health record (EHR)), and 3) the use of health IT to monitor risks, health care processes and outcomes and identify potential safety concerns before they can harm patients (e.g. use EHR-based algorithms to identify patients at risk for medication errors or care delays). The framework proposes to integrate both retrospective and prospective measurement of HIT safety with an organization's existing clinical risk management and safety programs. It aims to facilitate organizational learning, comprehensive 360 degree assessment of HIT safety that includes vendor involvement, refinement of measurement tools and strategies, and shared responsibility to identify problems and implement solutions. A long term framework goal is to enable rigorous measurement that helps achieve the safety benefits of health IT in real-world clinical settings.

  • Information technology
  • Patient safety
  • Performance measures
  • Quality measurement
  • Quality improvement methodologies

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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