Healthcare News & Insights


Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE)

CPOE is another form of an electronic ordering system that transfers data between doctors, pharmacists, and other medical staff and departments, and is often added as an extension to health IT systems. CPOE is usually put to use in partnership with e-Prescribing (eRx) systems, which have become popular in the digital healthcare world, and have been proven to eliminate costly and harmful errors caused by illegible handwriting and lost documents. Many CPOE systems include drug information specific to individual patients, alerts, and access to evidence-based clinical guidelines.

While translating all of the operations of a physician’s day into a seamlessly-integrated network system seems like a great solution for time-strapped caregivers that would pave the way for better patient care, CPOE has not been as quickly adopted as other medical technology.

It was designed to replicate the workflow of traditional paper charts and help eliminate improper medication dosages as the leading cause of adverse hospital events, but high costs of implementation, training, and the disruption in current care procedures has dampened its successes.

Government Intervention

It is the goal and proposed standard of the U.S. government to have at least 10 percent of orders entered by hospitals to be submitted electronically, though the integration of CPOE systems has not yet been fully adopted. Currently, only about one-third of all hospitals are using the system, and even less of a percentage of physicians are actually using it to enter orders.

The provisions set forth in the Healthcare Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) have put serious consideration and adoption of CPOE into place in recent years. Under this act, healthcare organizations reaching “meaningful use” status as of the year 2011 could qualify for government incentive payments, while those medical practices that have not met the standards set forth by 2015 will be penalized.

Implementation of CPOE

If hospitals and healthcare providers are serious about adopting a CPOE system, dedication must be given to researching prospective vendors, learning how to use the system and realizing its true benefits in comparison to the cost.

Success in finding a quality CPOE system for any healthcare organization can be attributed to these tactics:

  • Create a diverse CPOE Selection Team
  • Establish a budget range before contacting vendors
  • Assess hardware and software needs and any possible integration issues with current health IT systems
  • Research and call references for CPOE vendors your organization is interested in to see which systems are working the best and which are not producing the results desired
  • Get as many quotes as possible from different vendors to understand the offerings, availability, and implementation schedules for your organization
  • Be sure to ask about scheduling training sessions with the CPOE vendor company; are they available not only to install your system, but to help train your team to use it to its greatest ability as well?
  • Evaluate quality contenders and do more intensive research into their offerings before coming to a final decision

Though CPOE integration has been slow, the federal stimulus incentive has motivated many healthcare organizations to take charge and begin their adoption of this medical technology. Those who can use it well and to its highest potential will certainly save on expenses over time and can have the opportunity to increase productivity and provide better patient care.