IOM insists that feds more carefully oversee IT vendors

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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
The Department of Health and Human Services should impose more oversight of healthcare information technology vendors, a new report recommends.

The National Institute of Medicine's report highlights the potential for health IT-induced harm that could result in death and injury. The report, “Health IT and Patient Safety: Building Safer Systems for Better Care,” describes vendor-related mistakes such as dosing errors, failure to detect fatal illnesses, and delayed treatment due to poor human–computer interactions or loss of data.

The IOM's report made 10 specific recommendations. The full report can be see at www.iom.edu. Highlights include:

• The Secretary of Health and Human Services publish an action and surveillance plan to outline how the department will work with the private sector to assess the impact of health information technology on (HIT) patient safety;

• The HHS Secretary should ensure relevant vendors support the free exchange of information on HIT experiences and issues, including those related to patient safety;

• The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology should work with private and public sectors;

• The HHS Secretary should fund a safety council to evaluate criteria for assessing and monitoring the safe use of HIT;

• Vendors should be required to publicly register and list their products with the ONC.

• The  HHS Secretary should delineate the quality and risk management process requirements for vendors;

• The HHS Secretary should create a process for vendors and users to report HIT-related deaths, serious injuries or unsafe conditions;

• The HHS Secretary should recommend that Congress establish an independent federal entity for investigating patient safety, deaths, serious injuries or potentially unsafe conditions associated with HIT.