Safety and Quality > Our Work > Safety in e-Health

E-health programs can improve the quality of health care. The Commission contributes to e-health safety by optimising safety and quality in the rollouts of clinical systems. It focuses on hospital medication management programs and discharge summaries, and using e-health initiatives to improve the safety and quality of health care, including antimicrobial stewardship.

The Commission’s e-health safety programs include:

The Commission works in collaboration with states and territories, the private hospital and primary care sectors, the Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency), and other national bodies to promote the safety and quality agenda within national digital programs.

The Commission appointed Sydney University to develop a literature review The Impact of Digital Health on Safety and Quality of Health Care. The review analyses evidence for the types of digital health interventions which have been shown to improve health care. It focuses on the safety and quality impact of five digital health interventions:

  • Electronic patient portals
  • Electronic patient reminders (mobile technologies)
  • Information-sharing at discharge (electronic discharge summary or EDS)
  • Computerised provider order entry (CPOE) including electronic prescribing
  • Clinical decision-support systems (CDSSs).

The findings from the literature review will support jurisdictions, the Agency, and other healthcare providers identify best value approaches to digital health initiatives.

Download report The Impact of Digital Health on Safety and Quality of Health Care here.

Approaches to investigating health IT-related patient safety incidents

Literature on the clinical safety of health information technology (HIT) systems is rapidly evolving as these systems roll out across the Australian health system.  To identify appropriate methods for monitoring hazards affecting HIT systems and for investigating incidents resulting from the use of these systems, the Commission asked the Australian Institute of Health Innovation at Macquarie University to perform a Literature review and environmental scan on approaches to the review and investigation of Health IT-related patient safety incidents.

The review found that the requirements for HIT safety systems are similar to those that apply to existing patient safety systems and should include the ability to identify hazards ahead of time and permit review of incidents after the event. HIT safety systems should also provide information about the prevalence of incident reporting and management systems, and allow the opportunity to classify and report on incidents to ensure a continuous open loop of feedback and improvement.

The review noted that numerous methodologies exist and that no single method was appropriate to detect, investigate and classify all HIT incidents.  Successful HIT safety systems need to have in place a multidisciplinary team with appropriate skill sets from a clinical, health informatics and system safety perspectives and use a tailored approach to investigate HIT patient safety incidents.

The Commission acknowledges the financial support of the Australian Government Department of Health in developing this report.