Research Spotlights

AHRQ Health IT Safety Investigators are Using Health IT to Make a Real Difference in Improving Patient Safety

Research on Health IT Safety Special Emphasis Notice (NOT-HS-16-009):

AHRQ continues to fund research on safe health IT practices related to the design, implementation, usability, and safe use of health IT by all users, including patients.

This research generates new evidence on safe health IT practices to inform policy guidance.

Health IT includes numerous technologies that span from simple charting to advanced CDS. These technologies present increasing opportunities for improving and transforming healthcare by reducing human errors, improving clinical outcomes, and facilitating care coordination. Since the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) landmark report in 2001, “To Err is Human,” that described using IT as a key first step in transforming and changing the healthcare environment for better and safer care, accelerated development and adoption of health IT has produced increasing amounts of evidence showing the impact on improving patient safety-related outcomes. However, some research suggests that the introduction of health IT can also potentially cause new errors and have the unintended consequences of negatively affecting patient safety. AHRQ-funded research provides critical evidence about how to identify health IT safety issues, how to remedy them, and how health IT can be safely used and implemented. The pioneering patient safety work of Drs. Raj Ratwani, Gordon Schiff, and Jason Adelman is highlighted.

 

Impact

The impact of these AHRQ-funded studies will extend beyond the original research settings. Their work can be widely disseminated as vendors and healthcare organizations and systems can use their findings as they design and implement health IT to improve patient safety as well as to inform decision making at the policy level.