A Medical Device Daily

Following is a summary of recommendations in the recent Sentinel Alert from The Joint Commission (Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois) concerning the best human use and integration of new technologies in healthcare operations:

1. Examine workflow processes and procedures for risks and inefficiencies and resolve these issues prior to any technology implementation. Involve all appropriate disciplines.

2. Involve clinicians and staff who will ultimately use or be affected by the technology, along with IT staff with strong clinical experience, in the planning, assessment and improvement of technology solutions.

3. Assess your organization's technology needs beforehand and how to meet those needs by requiring IT staff to interact with users outside their own facility to learn about real-world use of new technologies.

4. When introducing new technology, continuously monitor for problems and quickly address any issues. Focus training on technology benefits and reduce delays between orientation and implementation.

5. Communicate policies delineating staff authorized and responsible for technology implementation and safety.

6. Before going "live" with new technology, ensure that all standardized order sets and guidelines are developed, tested on paper, and approved by the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee.

7. Develop a graduated system of safety alerts in the new technology that helps clinicians determine urgency and relevance.

8. Develop a system that mitigates potential harmful CPOE drug orders by requiring departmental or pharmacy review and sign off on orders that are created outside the usual parameters.

9. To improve safety, provide an environment that protects staff involved in data entry from undue distractions.

10. Continually reassess and enhance safety effectiveness and error-detection capability.

11. Continually monitor and report errors and near misses or close calls caused by technology through manual or automated surveillance techniques.

12. Re-evaluate the applicability of security and confidentiality protocols as more medical devices interface with the IT network.

13. Reassess HIPAA compliance on a periodic basis to ensure that the addition of medical devices to your IT network and the growing responsibilities of the IT department haven't introduced new security and compliance risks.