The future of CPOE

Almost everyone in the healthcare industry today is familiar with the term CPOE (Computerized Physician Order Entry), due to a significant increase in its usage over the last few years. Quality patient care is rapidly becoming a priority for providers and this has improved significantly due to a sudden surge in rapid health information exchange possibilities. The benefits of CPOE alone has convinced the healthcare community to become an advocate for its usage.


When a computer is able to allow direct entry of medical orders by an authorized or licensed individual, it is essentially enabling CPOE. In healthcare today, faxing and emailing are no longer the most advanced means of communication available. Providers now transmit healthcare information to other stakeholders such as hospitals and laboratories, by means of CPOE. The physicians can order a particular test for their patients in a few clicks and are able to receive results electronically, streamlining care delivery.

While CPOE is merely a component allowing physicians to order procedures and labs in a matter of seconds, transmission of patient health summary via Electronic Medical Records can make care delivery even more efficient.  Eradicating the use of paper-based records and eliminating handwritten data is of paramount importance for both doctors and patients as valuable time is managed efficiently.
Numerous studies have shown that the use of CPOE decreases errors due to illegible handwriting as well as harmful drug interactions. A recent research supported and funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) showed that medical prescription through CPOE has shown to reduce drug related errors by 50%.

Explaining the affect of CPOE on medication errors, the researchers said, “We conducted a systematic literature review and applied random-effects meta-analytic techniques to derive a summary estimate of the effect of CPOE on medication errors. This pooled estimate was combined with data from the 2006 American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Annual Survey, the 2007 American Hospital Association Annual Survey, and the latter’s 2008 Electronic Health Record Adoption Database supplement to estimate the percentage and absolute reduction in medication errors attributable to CPOE. Given this effect size, and the degree of CPOE adoption and use in hospitals in 2008, we estimate a 12.5 percent reduction in medication errors, or 17.4 million medication errors averted in the USA in one year.” The study effectively proves the relationship between CPOE and a reduction in medical errors.

One must not forget that EMR, Clinical Decision Support, CPOE and other patient engagement tools are merely aimed at helping providers making their administrative, clinical operations and eventually the quality of care delivery more efficient. These advancements do not aim to replace the physician, so it is up to the care community to work together and improve the very foundation of a safer, more efficient and reliable healthcare network.


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