If implemented appropriately, health IT can help improve health care providers' performance, better communication between patients and providers, and enhance patient safety, which ultimately may lead to better care for Americans. Health IT is designed to help improve the performance of health professionals, reduce costs, and enhance patient safety. For example, the number of patients who receive the correct medication in hospitals increases when these hospitals implement well-planned, robust computerized prescribing mechanisms and use barcoding systems. However, poorly designed health IT can create new hazards in the already complex delivery of care.
In the wake of more widespread use of health IT, the Department of Health and Human Services asked the IOM to evaluate health IT safety concerns and to recommend ways that both government and the private sector can make patient care safer using health IT. The IOM finds that safe use of health IT relies on several factors, clinicians and patients among them. Safety analyses should not look for a single cause of problems but should consider the system as a whole when looking for ways to make a safer system. Vendors, users, government, and the private sector all have roles to play. The IOM’s recommendations include improving transparency in the reporting of health IT safety incidents and enhancing monitoring of health IT products.