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For Rural EDs, CPOE Funding Must Come With Guidance

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, August 17, 2011

Rural EDs tend to lag behind their urban counterparts when it comes to computerized provider order entry, research finds. More financial help must be needed, right? That's probably true, but the cause may run deeper than simply a lack of funds.

Imagine this: I'm going to give you $500,000 to help you build a LEED-certified, environmentally friendly home. Although that offer might sound great, it might also be very overwhelming. What are the requirements? Who are the best environmentally certified contractors in the area? Are some solar panels better than others? What does LEED even mean, exactly? And what happens if this lack of knowledge leads to some poor investments?

Instead of just getting a lump sum, you might be better off if I included with those dollars a little bit of practical guidance to teach you things such as what to ask when interviewing a contractor or how to choose the highest-performing materials.

The same kind of logic applies to doling out federal resources for helping hospitals adopt health IT, concluded researchers in a study appearing in the August Annals of Emergency Medicine.

"Federal resources might be more effective if they helped providers select health information technology tools, improve health information technology design, and evaluate its influence on care delivery, versus simply calling for 'more,'" the authors wrote.

The study surveyed all nonfederal EDs in Massachusetts, Colorado, Georgia, and Oregon. It assessed health IT prevalence in 2008, with a focus on computerized provider order entry.

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