Report at a Glance
To protect Americans from potential medical errors associated with the use of information technology in patient care, a new report by the Institute of Medicine calls for greater oversight by the public and private sectors. The report examines a broad range of health information technologies, including electronic health records, secure patient portals, and health information exchanges, but not software for medical devices.
The secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should publish a plan within 12 months to minimize patient safety risks associated with health IT and report annually on the progress being made, the report says. The plan should include a schedule for working with the private sector to assess the impact of health IT on patient safety. However, if the secretary determines that progress toward improving safety is insufficient within a year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should exercise its authority to regulate these technologies. Concurrently, FDA should begin planning the framework needed for potential regulation so that the agency is ready to act if necessary.