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How the health IT stimulus could hit device market

The proposal is to create something like the Patient Safety Organization that already exists within HHS, through which clinicians and hospitals can share patient safety data without fear of retribution.

The process of handing out HITECH stimulus could hit the medical device market.

The certification workgroup of National Coordinator David Blumenthal's advisory committee is suggesting a range of patient safety actions be made part of the process, covering devices as well as software.

The recommendations are in a letter, posted to Scribd, signed Paul Egerman and Marc Probst, co-chairs of the adoption certification workgroup, to Blumenthal.

The letter is important for two reasons. First, because it addresses a key problem that has long faced health IT, the fact that peripherals like scanners wag the medical record dog. Second, because it proposes new burdens be placed on hospital device makers which their trade group, Advamed, is almost certain to oppose.

Egerman is CEO of eScription, a medical transcription company owned by Nuance. Probst is CIO of Intermountain Healthcare.

The proposal is to create something like the Patient Safety Organization that already exists within HHS, through which clinicians and hospitals can share patient safety data without fear of retribution.

In this case the new group would take reports related to health IT, which could include those related to devices connected to the networks. Probst and Egerman want this made part of the final rules on meaningful use, with a better feedback loop operating by fiscal 2013 for groups getting stimulus funds.

The most controversial aspect of this may be its suggestion for patient engagement, encouraging patients and families to look at their own medical records and reporting errors as "best practices." That reads like an invitation to lawsuits.

Egerman and Probst want these rules to be in place at least 18 months before they're enforced meaning final rules on 2013 would need to be published by the end of next March.