Top Five Health IT Dangers for Patient Care

Health IT can be a very effective tool for patient care, but can also be harmful and dangerous when improperly implemented. We will not rate this by medical criteria, but by operational criteria, we would say that the top five HIT dangers, in no particular order, are:

  1. Records lost due to programming faults – programming errors
  2. Incorrect record content allocated to a patient – programming errors
  3. Records not retrievable as the staff put content in an unexpected place – operational ambiguity
  4. Record contents read incorrectly off the screen – interface inadequacy and ambiguity
  5. Work processes that are not optimal for the task to be performed – workarounds

This gives a mini taxonomy of faults which should be useful for future interpretation of who and what is needed to improve systems. For example, workarounds need to be understood as a failure of process design and require clinical led strategies for elimination. Technology solutions undefined by clinicians will only lead to complicating the poorly designed process.

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