IOM Committee on Patient Safety and Health IT, Meeting Two: Institute of Medicine, or of Mediocrity?

In my Jan. 2011 post "Institute of Medicine Committee on Patient Safety and Health Information Technology, and Thoughts on Social Aspects of Health IT Evaluation" I wrote that:

The U.S. National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences issued a report in early 2009 on the state of health IT. That study's report, led in part by pioneers in Medical Informatics G. Octo Barnett and William Stead, was entitled "Computational Technology for Effective Health Care: Immediate Steps and Strategic Directions" (pre-publication PDF available free at this link). The report was announced under the following header:


The insufficiencies were largely in the areas of difficulties with data sharing and integration, deployment of new IT capabilities, large-scale data management, and lack of cognitive support by health IT for busy clinicians.

One might reasonably conclude such deficits could affect patient safety.

Recently the Institute of Medicine (the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences) formed a Committee to study health IT safety. It held its first meeting on Dec. 14, 2010 (quite a few years late in my opinion, and only after tens of billions of dollars have been earmarked for health IT, but better late than never):

The Institute of Medicine Committee on Patient Safety and Health Information Technology is holding its first meeting on December 14-15, 2010. The first day, December 14, 2010 beginning at 10:30 am, is open to the public to observe the committee proceedings. The committee will hear presentations by the Office of the National Coordinator and other invited guests. There will also be an opportunity for members of the public and representatives of interested organizations to make a brief statement before the committee. Prior registration is requested for attendees and required for those wishing to make a statement.

Here are links to the PPT presentations from Meeting 2 of the Committee on Patient Safety and Health IT that took place Feb. 24, 2011:

The PPT's can be downloaded directly from these links.

I note several observations:

  • The overall quality of these presentations appears mediocre;
  • Issues of healthcare IT risks - as they exist on the ground in 2011 - are addressed poorly if at all;
  • Proposed "solutions" are really nothing novel or new compared to existing literature or recommendations made in earlier studies, including that of the US NRC;
  • That these presentations come from the highest scientific body in the United States is, in my opinion, a disappointment and, indeed, an embarrassment.

The IOM's rules of engagement, according to the Study Director, preclude my testifying, as a Medical Informatics specialist and former CMIO, about a relative's nearly being killed by poorly designed and implemented health IT. Instead, the linked presentations above are presented.

Here's an example of what I consider a somewhat rigorous and critical thinking-based presentation on health IT risks:

I think the IOM should be able to do better than a mere small-university medical informatics adjunct professor.

-- SS