ECRI lays down 3 steps to close patient safety loop for diagnostic testing

ECRI Institute’s Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety identified ways technology can reduce and eliminate errors from diagnostic testing and medication mix-ups.

WIth the goal of lowering risk and harm while working to improve patient safety, the workgroup focused on how to implement health IT to cut missed, delayed, and incorrect diagnoses on testing results and medication changes.

To that end, ECRI outlined three tactics: communication, tracking and acknowledgment of action taken. 

Communication. ECRI suggested improving data transmission by using standards for formatting results, reporting actionable findings to include priority and timing via standards, creating recognizable icons for alerts and notifications in EHRs, making diagnostic results easier to communicate, using existing EHR functionality to automate notifications, optimizing alerts to reduce fatigue, and communicating diagnostic finding directly to patients. 

Tracking. ECRI said organizations should assign accountability for oversight of tracking, implement laboratory standards such as LOINC, institute bidirectional communication and monitor the status of medication changes. 

Acknowledgment. Here’s where healthcare organizations can close the loop. It starts with optimizing technology to store the acknowledgment and record the action taken and, from there, communicate the actions and acknowledgments. 

“Adding a plethora of technology alerts and reminders to an already dysfunctional process for results management or medication discontinuation will only obfuscate matters,” ECRI said. “By executing these recommendations, people and organizations across healthcare (including patients) can help ensure that providers have the most accurate and up-to-date information, which is necessary to provide the most effective and efficient care to patients, leading  to an improvement in outcomes.” 

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