Wednesday, March 07, 2012

ECRI Institute's Top Health Technology Hazards for 2012

In my Dec. 2010 post "ECRI: Healthcare IT In Top Ten Health Technology Threats to Patient Safety", I wrote that:

The ECRI Institute is an independent, unbiased, evidence-based healthcare research, information, and advice provider. They have been in operation for more than 40 years and are one of only a handful of organizations designated as both a Collaborating Center of the World Health Organization and an Evidence-Based Practice Center by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

... (from WSJ) For the fourth year running, the nonprofit ECRI Institute has put together a list of what it judges to be the top ten health technology hazards on which health-care facilities should focus their efforts.

... #5 Data loss, system incompatibilities and other health IT complications: Problems with electronic-health records and other health IT systems can lead to problems including lost data, the need for repeat testing and even patient injury or death.

From Medscape (account required), here is ECRI's #6 on the list of top technology threats for 2012:

Failing to Pay Sufficient Attention to New Device Connectivity

Medical technology and information technology (IT) can create risks. Hazards can arise from software problems, interoperability between systems, and poor network performance. Problems could create a domino effect, in which changes to one component of the system affect the operation of another.

Potential problems also include issues about wireless networks, cybersecurity, and software upgrades. "Hospitals must stay on top of routine updates," says Keller.

ECRI's recommendations: Make sure that hardware and software changes, security changes, and planned maintenance are approved and implemented in a controlled manner. Because IT help desks are usually the first point of contact for problems with health IT, provide the help desk team with education, training, and clear escalation procedures.

I would add "Failing to Pay Sufficient Attention to New Health IT Defects" to the list.

-- SS

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