ONC Releases Guides Hoping to Make EHRs SAFER

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has released a series of nine toolkits for electronic health records, called the Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience (SAFER) guides. The guides are part of a safety plan for health IT the Department of Health and Human Services released in July.

The SAFER guides contain checklists and recommended practices to optimize EHR safety and safe use on the following topics: High Priority Practices, Organizational Responsibilities, Patient Identification, Computerized Physician Order Entry with Decision Support, Test Results Review and Follow-up, Clinician Communication, Contingency Planning, System Interfaces, and System Configuration.

“As a family physician who has worked for years on making sure that health information technology is leveraged to improve the safety and quality of health care, I’m thrilled to see the SAFER Guides fill a void,” wrote Jacob Reider, MD, ONC’s chief medical officer, in a Jan. 15 blog post discussing the guides. “We’ve never before had a set of tools that care delivery organizations can use to perform self-assessments and developer customized improvement plans.”

The nine SAFER guides are organized into three broad groups—foundational guides, infrastructure guides, and clinical process guides—and enable healthcare organizations to address EHR safety in a variety of areas, according to ONC officials. Interactive PDF versions of the guides can be downloaded and completed locally for self-assessment of an organization’s degree of conformance to ONC’s SAFER recommended practices.

“There is good evidence that health information technology improves the safety of care, especially when implemented using best practices. We’ve learned that there is a great deal of variability in how information technology is implemented and optimized in care delivery organizations, and this variability may account for some of the problems with the safety and reliability of health IT,” Reider wrote.“These guides help enhance the likelihood that health information technology is implemented in a manner that aligns with best practice.”

ONC is partnering with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to encourage healthcare organizations to use the guides.

“We hope every sector of the health care industry will consider how they can make the SAFER Guides their own, including tailoring the content to their particular setting, specialty, and priorities,” Reider wrote.

Click here for more information and to download the guides.


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