Despite more than $30 billion of federal investment in health information technology over the past decade, the transition from paper to electronic health records has not reached its potential to enhance health care coordination and improve patient safety.
The inability of electronic health care record systems to easily share information with each other—known as interoperability—frustrates caregivers and their patients and raises serious safety concerns. Patients still tote their records and prescription bottles from a primary doctor’s office to specialists, and doctors still rely on patients’ memories for critical aspects of their health history. Better interoperability requires a nationwide approach to match patients to their records among the various doctor’s offices, hospitals, and specialists who care for them. It also requires standardization and reform of the ways health data are documented with electronic health records.
Along with interoperability challenges, the varied formats and designs of electronic health records can introduce unintentional safety problems. The lack of intuitive, easy-to-use interfaces—known as usability—can lead to data entry mistakes, such as recording the wrong patient, the wrong drug, or the wrong dosage. Doctors, hospitals, electronic health record vendors, and policymakers all have a role in identifying and addressing these usability challenges to advance the safety of health information technology.
Pew is conducting research to further quantify and illuminate these problems, and is convening stakeholder organizations to look for and advance solutions. Ultimately, Pew’s work will help realize the vision of health information technology, one where patients’ health information is accessible to them and their doctors, and the format of electronic health records does not raise the opportunity for unintended harm.
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The Pew Charitable Trusts sent a letter Aug. 25 to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology asking it to consider ways to address two critical aspects of interoperability in electronic health records: patient matching and data standardization. Read More
The Pew Charitable Trusts on July 20th, 2017 sent a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, M.D., asking him to prioritize the interoperable exchange of health data and improved patient safety as part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health information technology strategy. Read More
A commission that advises Congress on issues affecting Medicare has recommended adding medical device identifiers to the next version of the standard claims form used by hospitals and health care providers to request reimbursement from a health plan. Read More