The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has released new regulations that increase federal oversight of electronic health records (EHRs) in an effort to improve patient safety. These regulations allow the ONC to review EHRs suspected of posing serious risks to patients, require the developer of an electronic records system to correct identified flaws, and, if necessary, suspend the certification of products with unresolved issues. With this authority, the ONC hopes to address problems with systems that are already installed and in use at health care facilities.
Unfortunately, even with this rule in place, gaps will persist in the ability of hospitals, doctors, and the developers of these systems to detect flaws that could put patients at risk. That’s because the ONC requires only limited testing of EHRs to check for flaws before the products are installed, and no comprehensive system exists to collect information on safety problems related to these records.
Two further steps are critical to improving the safety of electronic health records.
These additional steps would help detect and prevent safety problems during the development and implementation of EHRs and reduce patient harm related to these products.