Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Texas Medical Association slams ONC Healthcare IT safety plan

The Texas Medical Association offers views similar to the views I have been writing about for a decade and a half on healthcare IT quality and patient care risks:
FierceHealth IT today

Texas Medical Association slams ONC safety plan
By Dan Bowman

The health IT safety action plan proposed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT in December is not specific enough to succeed, according to recent comments made by the Texas Medical Association. In its letter to National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, TMA said that responsibility for the plan "lacks focus," and should be overseen by a "highly visible HIT Safety Czar.

TMA also called setting mandatory deadlines and developing a "robust" reporting and learning system imperative to the success of the plan, saying that the plan's current reliance on voluntary reporting and funding represents a "fundamental weakness."

"TMA believes that significant patient safety risks exist now, and new ones will emerge in the next one to two years as many [electronic health record] and other HIT vendors merge or go out of business," the letter said.

Additionally, the group expressed doubts about a code of conduct proposed to keep vendors in line as far as ensuring cooperation with safety organizations for adverse event reporting. "TMA is concerned that this will not materially affect industry accountability and generate the changes that are needed," the letter said. "For example, what if a developer does not comply with said code of conduct? There is no penalty or impetus for change."

The American Medical Association was a bit less harsh in its assessment of ONC's plan. It supports most of the ideas outlined in the plan, although it called for more research to be done on the impact of electronic health record use regarding patient safety in the ambulatory setting.

"Physicians are concerned about potential liabilities from EHR system design and software flaws, as well as lack of interoperability among EHR systems that could result in incomplete or missing information, which may lead to errors in patient diagnosis and treatment," the AMA letter said. "In addition, the impact that EHRs have on physician practice workflows can lead to unintended consequences. Those impacts are the result of how the software is developed."

HIMSS said in its letter to Mostashari that it wants to see more provider-vendor cooperation when it comes to investigation of patient safety events, as well as usability, while the AHA said in its letter that its stakeholders would like to see more of a focus on a single, national approach to matching patients with their records with a goal of patient safety.

To learn more:
- here's the TMA 
letter (.pdf)
- read the AMA 
letter (.pdf)

The TMA and AMA letters linked above are worth reading in their entirety.

I note, with little surprise, the "softer" stances (e.g., self-policing vs. government oversight) taken by industry-dominated bodies such as HIMSS and CHIME.

On the other hand, I find the AMA's "less harsh" views somewhat disappointing.  Their letter is welcome, and more research needs to be done as to risks in ambulatory settings (and inpatient settings as well).  However, the delays in action during the research are of concern.

Where patient safety is concerned, fast action is a top priority.  Patients, needless to say, have more rights than computers and their sellers.

-- SS

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a no brainer: the FDA must be in charge of protecting the public from these devices.