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Building Patient Safety into Healthcare Technology

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Like it or loathe it, technology is at the core of healthcare. From electronic health records (“EHRs”), Practice Management Systems (“PMS”), billing systems, to electronic prescribing systems, there is a plethora of tools that enable documentation and data exchange across the system. Given the central role technology plays in supporting care delivery, healthcare technology providers are uniquely positioned to reduce risk to patient safety by adopting best practices in the workflows and features they develop. 

At Therapy Brands, our Patient Safety Committee has adopted the Safety Assurance Features for EHR Resilience (“SAFER”) Guides published by the Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (“ONC”) as the framework for assessing our products in the context of optimizing patient safety. We take two approaches: full end-to-end clinical audits of our products; and clinical reviews of new features. The former ensures we have a good understanding of the risk profile of the software our customers use day-in day-out. The latter ensures we “build-in” patient safety when we evolve our products. 


In both cases, the SAFER Guides are used as our benchmarking tool. This tool allows for a consistent framework across both processes and across all products. We have the same frame of reference when assessing the risk profile of a product or feature, we use the same language, and we use the same process. Like any audit: we assess; we review our findings with the product team; we align on remediation and timeline to close; and we assess again after remediation to make sure the team has reduced the potential risk our findings identified. 

Sometimes we need to make hard choices that may require a change to a provider’s workflow. For example, our electronic prescribing software, NewCrop, now requires providers to enter prescription data as discrete fields, and choose from pre-set drop-down menus. An ideal electronic prescription should be a clear and complete order that should have already been screened for any drug, allergy, or condition interactions prior to arriving at the pharmacy.  Utilizing structured fields and limiting free-text facilitates the application of clinical decision support tools that alert the provider of any potential prescription conflicts.1 

This ensures the interactions checks that reduce patient safety risk have already been completed prior to prescribing; the prescription that is received by the pharmacy is clear, concise and unambiguous; and the patient receives the medication intended by the provider. Technology has a major part to play in reducing medication errors that have significant impact on patient health outcomes.2 

In service to our vision of expanding access to quality therapy and mental healthcare, Therapy Brands has the opportunity to expand access through the use of technology that has been rigorously assessed for patient safety risk, and has patient safety built in. Our customers are dedicated to patient safety, and they expect Therapy Brands, as a trusted technology partner, to commit to the same ethos. 

For more information about our Patient Safety program, please reach out to patientsafety@therapybrands.com

1 Dhavle, A, and Rupp, M. Towards creating the perfect electronic prescription. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 2014; 0:1-4. 
2 Rayhan A. Tariq; Rishik Vashisht; Ankur Sinha; Yevgeniya Scherbak. Medication Dispensing Errors and Prevention. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519065/. 


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