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Making health IT more secure

January 23, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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With the rise in adoption of electronic health records, guaranteeing the security of patient information is becoming ever more important. On January 15 the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released a suite of tools in the form of a new set of guides that include checklists and recommended practices for healthcare providers and the organizations that support them.

According to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience (SAFER) Guides are considered a milestone in the implementation of the HHS Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan, which was issued in July 2013.

Created by leading health IT researchers, the SAFER Guides offer self-assessment worksheets, checklists and recommended practices that address topics including patient identification; Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE); clinician communication; system interfaces; system configuration; and contingency planning.

"A basic premise of the Health IT Safety Plan is that all stakeholders have a shared responsibility to make sure that health IT is safely implemented and that it is used to improve patient safety and care," said Jacob Reider, MD, chief medical officer at ONC. "The SAFER Guides combine the latest applied knowledge of health IT safety with practical tools that will help provides—working closely with EHR developers, diagnostic service providers, and others—effectively assess and optimize the safety and safe use of EHR technology within their organizations."