Executive Summary

Healthcare providers and policymakers have embraced health information technology (IT) as an essential component of high-quality healthcare because it has the potential to provide multiple benefits: support clinical decision making, enhance provider communication, provide clinicians with access to patient data, engage patients, and reduce errors.

But studies also point to the so-called “unintended consequences” of health IT. Because of the large number of patients whose data is entered into an organization’s health IT system, health IT-related errors have the potential to affect many patients, and some can cause harm.

Deep Dive Resources

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Table of Contents

Deep Dive Resources


ECRI Institute PSO reviewed 171 health IT-related events submitted by healthcare facilities during a nine-week period. Health IT problem areas identified include: inadequate data transfer from one health IT system to another; data entry in the wrong patient record; incorrect data entry in the patient record; failure of the health IT system to function as intended; and configuration of the system in a way that can lead to mistakes. Health IT must be considered in the context of the environment in which it operates during the three phases of any health IT project: planning for new or replacement systems, system implementation, and ongoing use and evaluation of the system. Shortsighted approaches to health IT can lead to adverse consequences.

Key Recommendations

  • Enlist leaders’ commitment and support for the organization’s health IT projects.
  • Involve health IT users in system planning, design, and selection.
  • Conduct a review of workfl ow and processes to determine how they must be modified.
  • Evaluate the ability of existing IT systems within the organization to reliably exchange data with any health IT system under consideration.
  • Conduct extensive tests before full implementation to ensure that the health IT system operates as expected.
  • Provide user training and ongoing support; educate users about the capabilities and limitations of the system.
  • Closely monitor the system’s ease of use and promptly address problems encountered by users.
  • Introduce alterations to a health IT system in a controlled manner.
  • Monitor the system’s effectiveness with metrics established by the organization.
  • Require reporting of health IT-related events and near misses.
  • Conduct thorough event analysis and investigation to identify corrective measures.

Read the complete report and accompanying materials in the links at the top of this page.




Resource List

Related Resources

Topics and Metadata


Health Information Technology


Hospital Inpatient

Clinical Specialty



Risk Manager; Healthcare Executive

Information Type


Phase of Diffusion


Technology Class


Clinical Category



SourceBase Supplier

Product Catalog








Publication History

​Published March 22, 2013