Electronic health record developers and users should share responsibility

Researchers have urged for a shared responsibility when it comes to electronic health records (EHR) between developers of these products and health care organization so as to ensure compliance with Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience (SAFER) Guides.

This comes as recommendation from scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and Baylor College of Medicine. The paper and recommendations were published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The SAFER Guides enable health care organizations and EHR developers to conduct self-assessments of their EHRs with the ultimate goal of proactively optimizing the safety and safe use of EHRs. While the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published new payment rules that required all eligible hospitals to use the SAFER Guides what they missed was requirement that EHR developers use the SAFER Guides. Scientists recommend that developers of EHR systems should annually assess their products as well. This will ensure that their customers can implement and use the EHR as recommended in the SAFER Guides.

While the new CMS policy requiring hospitals to perform annual self-assessment using the SAFER Guides creates a solid foundation, authors say the responsibility for safety must be shared with EHR developers.

Researchers recommend three specific strategies to complement the new CMS rules. They suggest:

  • EHR developers self-assess their products annually against SAFER recommendations and indicate whether their EHR can be configured to meet each SAFER recommendation.
  • ONC should conduct yearly reviews of SAFER recommendations to keep up with EHR design, development, and configuration changes.
  • EHR developers should disseminate guidance to their customers on how to implement safety practices related to their product.

They say these strategies reinforce the robust EHR safety foundation laid by the new CMS regulations and more evenly distribute the responsibility for making safety improvements between those who design and develop the EHRs and those who configure, implement, and use these systems.

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