BPC Releases Recommendations on Oversight for Patient Safety and Health IT

Bipartisan Policy Center

Calls for Continued Innovation in Health IT to Protect Patients

Yesterday the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) released An Oversight Framework for Assuring Patient Safety in Health Information Technology, a report containing a set of principles and recommendations calling for a risk-based, flexible framework that both protects patient safety and promotes continued innovation in health information technology (IT).

“Promoting patient safety in health IT requires national focus and public and private sector leadership, collaboration, and commitment,” said former Senate Majority Leader and BPC Health Project co-leader Tom Daschle at today’s event.

The purpose of BPC’s new report is to inform policies now emerging from the federal government to use health IT to make health care safer and continuously improve the safety of health IT. It was informed by research and insights provided by both experts and leaders from across the country representing clinicians, consumers, health plans, hospitals, and electronic health record (EHR) and other technology companies.

The report outlines the following principles that should guide the development of any oversight framework for patient safety and health IT:

  1. Any oversight framework for safety should recognize and support the important role that health IT plays in improving the quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness of care, as well as the patient’s experience of care.
  2. Assuring patient safety, along with enabling positive patient outcomes, is a shared responsibility that must involve the entire health care system.
  3. Any framework for patient safety in health IT should be risk-based, flexible, and not stifle innovation.
  4. Existing safety and quality-related processes, systems, and standards should be leveraged for patient safety in health IT.
  5. Reporting of patient safety events related to health IT is essential; a non-punitive environment should be established to encourage reporting, learning, and improvement.

The new report also makes several recommendations for actions that should be taken to speed the implementation of an oversight framework that contains the following key components:

  1. Agreement on and adherence to recognized standards and guidelines for assuring patient safety in the development, implementation, and use of health IT.
  2. Support for the implementation of standards and guidelines as well as development and dissemination of best practices through education, training, and technical assistance.
  3. Developer, implementer, and user participation in patient safety activities, including reporting, analysis, and response, while leveraging patient safety organizations.
  4. Creation of a learning environment through the aggregation and analysis of data to identify and monitor trends, mitigate future risk, and facilitate learning and improvement.

“As the health care system continues to move into the digital age, we must work together to advance a framework that both protects patient safety and promotes—not stifles—innovation,” said former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist , who also serves as co-leader of BPC’s Health Project.

This past December, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a draft Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan for public comment. The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012 requires HHS to develop—by January 2014—a proposed strategy and recommendations for an appropriate, risk-based regulatory framework for health IT.

“In addition to informing federal policy related to both patient safety and health IT, the report demonstrates the considerable leadership and commitment from organizations across every sector of health care to advance standards and practices that not only improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of care, but also improve the safety of care,” said Janet Marchibroda , director of BPC’s Health Innovation Initiative.

To learn more about BPC’s Health Project, click here.