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E-prescribing threshold too low to reduce deaths: RAND

InformationWeek, September 22, 2011

In Stage 1 of Meaningful Use, hospitals must show that their staffs used computerized physician order entry to order medications for at least 30% of patients. According to a new Health Affairs study, that threshold is "probably too low" to reduce the mortality rate of patients suffering from heart attacks, heart failure, or pneumonia by reducing medication errors and improving patient safety. If the threshold were raised to 60% and then to 80% of patients--as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expects will happen in stages 2 and 3 of Meaningful Use--the death rate could be cut significantly, the researchers said. The co-authors of the study reached this conclusion by applying statistical modeling to American Hospital Association data on electronic medication ordering and CMS data on the mortality rates of Medicare patients.