What is Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE)?

What is Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE)?

A 2013 study in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association showed that a prescription medication order processed through Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) had a 48 % lower chance of error, indicating that upward of 17 million medical errors could be avoided in the U.S. in one year.  

Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) is the process of a medical professional entering physician orders such as medication orders, physician instructions, and lab orders electronically instead of using paper charts.

CPOE systems mimic the paper chart workflow making the documentation intuitive and easy to use. Initially, CPOE systems were marketed and sold as standalone systems, but now many electronic health record (EHR) products include CPOE modules that allow physicians to enter patient data electronically into text boxes and drop-down menus, rather than handwritten notes.

Physicians have been slow to embrace the use of CPOE, citing the cost of implementation as well as the decrease in productivity and revenue while implementing the new technology into current workflows as the primary hindrances.

However, CPOE programs served and continue to offer many benefits, let’s explore a few of them.  

CPOE Met Meaningful Use Stage One and Two Requirements

The Stage One CPOE objective was met in the following ways.  

  • Use computerized physician order entry (CPOE) for medication orders.
  • Use CPOE for 30% of medication orders

The Stage 2 CPOE requirement had three measures to meet. Stage 2 Objective 3 required use of computerized physician order entry (CPOE) to record the following items during an EHR reporting period:

  • Measure 1: More than 60% of medication orders
  • Measure 2: More than 30% of lab orders
  • Measure 3: More than 30% of radiology/imaging orders

CPOE Meets Meaningful Use Stage 3 Requirements  

The Stage 3 CPOE requirement also has three measures that must be met and requires the use of CPOE during the EHR reporting period:

  • Measure 1: More than 80% of medication orders
  • Measure 2: More than 60% of lab orders
  • Measure 3: More than 60% of radiology/imaging orders

CPOE Works Hand in Hand with E-Prescribing Programs

CPOE systems are often used with e-prescribing programs. CPOE systems alert physicians and clinicians to a patient’s drug allergies and current medications, helping them stay on top of patient’s prescription history, making medication reconciliation easier. In addition, many of the e-prescribing programs can help patients save money by alerting clinicians of available e-coupons.  

CPOE implementation can be introduced gradually. According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s online CPOE resource, the six needed steps for ideal implementation include initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, transitioning to operation and optimization and maintenance.

Once a CPOE system is implemented into practice, the positive impact is easy to measure as indicated in the study mentioned above. CPOE is an indisputable way to improve efficiency and use technology wisely in healthcare.