Improving patient safety through health-related IT

On behalf of Mike Clancy

We are living in an age of interconnected electronic technology. Americans increasingly rely on a host of electronic devices to not only connect them with other people but also to be compatible with other devices. The fact that one can tap a few words into a phone and have those words connect to other phones, tablets, computers and devices is one of the factors driving connectivity.

However, some of the devices that Americans count on the most to be compatible with other devices are lagging behind the electronic compatibility trend. In particular, certain medical devices and other health-related IT remains incompatible with other devices in such ways that this disconnect is affecting patient care.

When physicians make medical errors, they can generally be held accountable for their negligence through disciplinary actions, teaching opportunities, educational reinforcement efforts and personal injury lawsuits. However, when a device makes a medical error, not because it is defective but simply because it remains incompatible with another medical device, it can be difficult to hold anyone accountable for the resulting harm.

Patient data, research updates and even medical device functioning can all be impacted by incompatible communication and operation of various health-related IT. Thankfully, a number of governmental organizations and safety groups are focusing on this issue in order to improve the state of health-related IT in terms of compatible communication and operation. Over time, the efforts of the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, , the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and numerous IT manufacturers will hopefully lead to significant improvements in patient safety.

Source: iHealthBeat, “Navigating the Intersection of Medical Devices, Health IT To Boost Patient Safety,” Bonnie Darves, July 7, 2014

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Improving patient safety through health-related IT