Private-Sector Safety Institute Empowers Patients

Published January 1, 2002

Leading physician, hospital, and consumer advocates announced at a December 11 news conference in Washington, DC the launch of a new initiative formed to improve patient safety and health care quality, the Patient Safety Institute (PSI).

A collaboration aimed at “putting the patient back into the picture,” PSI is a nonprofit, voluntary initiative that will use existing technology to provide real-time, secure, patient-centric information.

PSI combines the power of technology with the strength of patient-provider relationships to improve care and lower the costs of health care.

“The PSI network will enable providers to immediately access vital blocks of information from disparate sources, at any time and from any point of care, and will dramatically enhance patient safety and improve treatment,” said Jack Lewin MD, CEO of the California Medical Association and chair of PSI’s Board of Directors. PSI will deliver information in five key areas physicians agree are critical for delivering quality care: diagnoses, laboratory results, medications, allergies, and immunizations.

“Patient safety and privacy are the foundation of PSI; the National Consumers League is proud to be a partner in this important new endeavor,” added Linda F. Golodner, president and CEO of the National Consumers League and a member of the PSI Board of Directors. “Only those who need to know—patients, their doctors, and their health care facilities—will have access to patient data.”

Medical errors are believed by some to be a leading cause of death and disability in the United States, causing more fatalities each year than AIDS, breast cancer, and motor vehicle accidents combined. “The time is right for a solution formed by and for those at the intersection of quality care: patients, physicians, and hospitals,” said Lewin. “PSI’s governance, privacy principles, and technology standards will elicit the patient trust and confidence necessary for the PSI solution to be accepted across the country.”

PSI’s Board of Directors includes prominent advocates drawn from the patient, physician, and hospital communities. In addition to Lewin and Golodner, directors are Don C. Black, president, Child Health Corporation of America; Twila Brase RN, PHN, president, Citizens’ Council on Health Care; Jane L. Delgado Ph.D., president & CEO, National Alliance for Hispanic Health; William F. Jessee MD, CMPE, president & CEO, Medical Group Management Association; and Daniel H. Winship MD, vice chancellor of health affairs and CEO, University of Missouri-Columbia Health System, and member, Executive Committee of the University Healthsystem Consortium.

In addition to being guided by a consumer and provider-based board, PSI is advised by Dee Hock, founder and CEO Emeritus of VISA and member of the Business Hall of Fame. Thirty-five years ago, Hock pioneered the concept of using an open communications network to allow competing institutions to securely transmit a limited set of consumer data, paving the way for today’s robust credit card and ATM industry. In applying this model to the health care industry and the issue of patient safety and quality of care, PSI will go one step further by giving the consumer an equal voice in the system’s governance.

Nationwide Expansion

To facilitate expansion of PSI nationwide, PSI will offer access to the system through publicly available, open standard technology.

Offering both convenience and confidentiality, PSI will allow providers to securely access clinical information using the technology of their choice, such as a handheld device at the patient’s bedside or a networked computer in their office.

Beta sites that demonstrate the PSI system will be up and running by mid-2002. Based on the results of those test sites, PSI anticipates a national rollout of the PSI system sometime in 2003.

Focus on Patient Security, Privacy

Protecting the privacy and security of sensitive patient information is key to the mission of PSI and to its Board of Directors.

“PSI sets a new standard of respect for patients and the patient’s right to privacy and personal autonomy,” said Board member Brase, who also serves as a contributing editor to Health Care News. “It is my hope that new consumer expectations will quickly lead to the adoption of PSI standards and privacy principles across the entire health care industry.”

PSI will employ an enhanced security technology to maintain patient confidentiality at a higher standard than is currently in use or mandated. This enhanced security feature requires that the digital identity of the patient, physician, and clinic or hospital be authenticated before the patient’s clinical information is released to the patient-approved physician. Identifiable patient data will continue to be stored under the jurisdiction of the patient’s physician and hospital and at their current locations.

PSI is a voluntary initiative; the patient, his or her physician, and their hospital all must deliberately choose to participate and can opt out of the system at any time.

Core Founding Partners

PSI supports open standards and an open access policy for all health care vendor organizations. For the PSI demonstration phase, initial support was provided by Core Founding Partners (CFPs) selected by the PSI Board of Directors to demonstrate the efficacy, viability, and inter-operability of the PSI communications network in an actual health care community environment.

The CFPs include Avaya (NYSE: AV), Cingular, First Consulting Group (Nasdaq: FCGI), Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HWP), Netegrity (Nasdaq: NETE), SeeBeyond (Nasdaq: SBYN), TeleTech (Nasdaq: TTEC), and Williams Communications (NYSE: WCG).

For more information . . .

Contact: Liz Kapusnick at 202/715-0513, email [email protected] or Brian Hoyt at 202/715-0503, email [email protected]. Or visit the Patient Safety Institute’s Web site at