Healthcare facilities aren't implementing ONC's EHR safety guidelines, study finds

Less than 20 percent of the ONC's guidelines for EHR safety are fully implemented across healthcare organizations, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

For the study, a team of researchers led by Dean Sittig, PhD, a professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, asked eight healthcare organizations in the U.S. and Australia to conduct an anonymous self-assessment of their EHR practices.

The voluntary guidelines — dubbed the Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience — were developed nearly four years ago and include 140 recommendations. According to the study, the eights sites had fully implemented only 25 of the total 140 recommendations, or 18 percent.

The researchers divided the recommendations into three broad domains: "safe health IT," "using health IT safely" and "monitoring health IT." The safe health IT domain had the highest adherence rate, and included recommendations such as "data and application configurations are backed up and hardware systems are redundant" and "EHR downtime and reactivation policies and procedures are complete, available and reviewed regularly."

"This is not surprising because the domains were conceived as sequential building blocks," study co-author Hardeep Singh, MD, professor at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said in a news release. "The safe health IT domain contains many recommendations required for e-health record system certification."

The study authors say that greater adherence to the SAFER guidelines will require "organizational prioritization, resource allocation, policy changes and vendor participation."

Click here to access the complete study.

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