OHSU leads efforts to increase safety of health information technology

Dr. Joan Ash

Health information technology, including electronic health records, provides great value to patients and clinicians, but if not used appropriately, these tools can lead to medical errors and wasted resources. Faculty members in the Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology at Oregon Health & Science University have been involved in developing best practices for health IT, including contributing a chapter to the Institute of Medicine’s report on health IT safety that was released in 2011.

Most recently, Joan Ash, Ph.D., M.L.S., M.S., M.B.A., professor and vice chair of medical informatics and clinical epidemiology in the OHSU School of Medicine, served as lead author on the SAFER (Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience) guides that were released by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology last week. These guides are based on the most up-to-date research for optimizing electronic health record safety. Dr. Ash collaborated on the guides with faculty members at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

“The SAFER guides, along with research about the value of health IT, also drive home the importance of informatics expertise in implementing health IT,” said William Hersh, M.D., professor and chair of medical informatics and clinical epidemiology, in a recent blog post. “Well-trained informaticians bring knowledge and experience to HIT implementation, including being aware of the existence of tools like the SAFER guides. These guides will allow informaticians and others to apply best practices to electronic health record implementation.”