ONC’s Andrew Gettinger: ‘There probably is under-reporting’ on EHRs causing patient harm

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In an interview posted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Andrew Gettinger, MD, the chief medical information officer for the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), said he believes there are more electronic health record-related safety problems then recent studies have found.

“If I were to go back to our large-scale deployment, I would have invested far more time in developing EHR simulations, getting our software configured, then making sure our clinicians played with the systems more before they started using them to care for patients,” Gettinger said. “Despite the recent publication coming out of the Harvard hospitals that suggests there is not increased patient harm around the deployment of EHRs, most of us who have been at that ground level think that there probably is underreporting—that those transitions actually do cause substantial negative outcomes.”

Much of his concern dealt with the design and implementation, with software having “lots of room to improve” in his opinion and wishing more clinicians were looking at ONC guides for implementing a new system.

Gettinger also touched on other topics, like promoting greater interoperability and a national patient identifier.

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