April 8, 2013

When you're a hospital patient, you see many outward displays of patient safety practices. For example, providers check your ID bracelet, ask you to confirm your name and birth date, and scan the barcode on your ID and your medication before giving it to you.

Additionally, many other processes are going on behind the scenes to improve patient safety and quality of care.

About two years ago, physicians practicing at CAMC started using Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE), which means that physicians enter their patient care orders directly into CAMC's electronic medical record system. CPOE is an important step in improving patient safety, quality and efficiency of care.

Using CPOE, physicians can enter an order from within the hospital or remotely. Once an order is entered, it goes to the designated department (pharmacy, radiology, etc.) so that it can start being processed immediately and expedites the delivery of care to the patient. Prior to CPOE, physician orders were written into a patient's paper chart and then had to be entered into the system by a nurse or unit coordinator.

The key benefits of using CPOE include reducing errors in the order entry process, gaining faster turnaround times for medications, labs, images and diagnostics, and eliminating duplicate orders. If there is a possible drug interaction, physicians are alerted at the time they place the order. CPOE also eliminates handwriting legibility issues.

CPOE is one part of meeting the government's requirement of Meaningful Use, which provides incentives to organizations who meet guidelines of expanding electronic health record (EHR) technology. These national priorities are seen as important parts of the role of technology in the national effort to improve health care safety, quality and efficiency.

"CPOE has been a significant change and opportunity for physicians, nurses, clinical staff, information services and others at CAMC. We appreciate the years of work by all to adopt CPOE as one way to continue to improve how we care for our patients," said Glen Wright, MD, clinical director for medical informatics.

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