Hospital leaders address CPOE concerns at Vanderbilt conference

Health care leaders generally agree that computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems are a valuable tool for reducing medical errors, but establishing the technology as a necessity for every hospital has proven difficult, according to participants at a CPOE conference last week. About 70 participants gathered at the conference, sponsored by the Vanderbilt Center for Better Health, to address concerns about CPOE, including costs and return on investment.

CPOE can reduce errors in ordering and filling prescriptions, and it can improve care by communicating new standards of care to physicians. But the technology's high price tag is a barrier to adoption, as is potential resistance from hospital staff and physicians, said David Osborn, director of Vanderbilt's medical center.

A more pressing question, perhaps, is whether every hospital needs CPOE and can justify its cost, participants said. Although patient safety groups such as the Leapfrog Group have tried to make CPOE part of a de facto standard for quality care, some hospitals have questioned that approach. Some conference participants said they were glad to learn that other health care administrators shared their concerns about CPOE and that they would use what they learned at the conference to help their hospitals decide whether to implement CPOE (Nashville Tennessean, 6/8).

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