First, do no harm

Just came across an interesting announcement from the US Department of Health and Human Services regarding an upcoming contract to “create and support a panel of experts and related work groups to identify and explore potentially undesirable or harmful “unintended consequences”” arising from US healthcare IT funding initiatives.  According to the contract award notice (

“While we expect for these programs to help achieve the many desirable outcomes envisioned by Congress, a sense of responsibility for activities we support, historical experience, as well as mounting evidence of unexpected problems, demand that we consider potential downsides.”

“While some unintended consequences are desirable, the purpose of this contract is to identify and address those that are undesirable and potentially harmful.”

The contract notice defines “unintended consequences” as

“… outcomes that are not intended, even though, upon investigation and reflection, they are, at least in part, a natural consequence of the activities.”

I was intrigued by HHS’s decision to explore unintended consequences.  What do you think of their decision to do so? Any thoughts on unintended consequences arising from the application of IT in healthcare?


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