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Patient Safety and Health Information Technology

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This document reflects emerging concepts on patient safety and is subject to change. The information should not be construed as dictating an exclusive course of treatment or procedure to be followed.The advantages of health information technology (IT) include facilitating communication between health care providers; improving medication safety, tracking, and reporting; and promoting quality of care through optimized access to and adherence to guidelines. Health IT systems permit the collection of data for use for quality management, outcome reporting, and public health disease surveillance and reporting. However, improvement is needed with all health IT, especially regarding design, implementation, and integration between platforms within the work environment. Robust interoperability is critical for safe care, but this goal has proved elusive. Significant patient safety concerns already have been recognized; it is important to keep patient safety and quality as the primary focus.

Benefits of Health Information Technology

Most obstetrician–gynecologists are now using electronic health records. They have rapidly moved into use because of the recognition of their potential benefits and government programs that incentivize their use. The benefits of health information technology (IT) include its ability to store and retrieve data; the ability to rapidly communicate patient information in a legible format; improved medication safety through increased legibility, which potentially decreases the risk of medication errors; and the ease of retrieval of patient information.

The potential to improve patient safety exists through the use of medication alerts, clinical flags and reminders, better tracking and reporting of consultations and diagnostic testing, clinical decision support, and the availability of complete patient data. Data gathered through the use of health IT can be used to evaluate the efficacy of therapeutic interventions and have been demonstrated to lead to improvements in the practice of medicine 1. Alerts can optimize adherence to guidelines and evidence-based care 2. Record uniformity can be designed to reduce practice variations, conduct systematic audits for quality assurance, and optimize evidenced-based care for common conditions

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