Lessons from Aviation
Despite rapid advances in information technology and medical devices, most healthcare organizations have not achieved the same high reliability and safety as other industries, such as aviation, where mistakes can have catastrophic results. Executives and physicians alike are dissatisfied with costs and outcomes, and patients are rightfully fearful of medical errors, infections and miscommunication. The Institute of Medicine estimated in 1998 that medical errors cause as many as 98,000 deaths per year, and recent reassessments indicate that roughly 15 percent of hospital patients are still being harmed.
Safer and more effi cient care will require more than just electronic medical record (EMR) updates. In the January 2013 edition of Health Affairs, the RAND Corporation stated that, “The potential of health information technology to both improve patient care and reduce spending are unlikely to be realized until healthcare providers reengineer their processes to focus on the benefits that can be achieved.” Before the improvements in healthcare information technology (HIT) can significantly increase patient safety or lower costs, providers must change cultures and attitudes within their organizations.