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5 Ways to Avoid CPOE Pitfalls

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, September 21, 2010

An increasing number of organizations are implementing computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems in order to help physicians make decisions based on evidenced-based best practices. There are a number of benefits to such systems, from streamlined ordering of clinical tests, labs, and medications, allergy and drug interaction alerts, and, of course, an end to the errors caused by physicians' notoriously poor handwriting.

But there are a number of pitfalls, as well. Improperly deployed systems are at risk to cause more harm than good. Here are five common pitfalls of CPOE and how to avoid them.

1. Make it easy to use

Look for graphic displays that are easy to read and understand says Ron Short, vice president of operations at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview, TX. Physicians like "touch, enter, and go" software, he says.

2. Avoid alert fatigue

When it comes to CPOE, it is possible to have too much of a good thing: Too many screens and alerts can cause clinicians to start clicking through them on autopilot, a phenomenon known as alert fatigue. To avoid it, review drug and allergy alerts and remove those that are not absolutely necessary, suggests Mary McNichol, senior director of information systems at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. Weigh sets carefully and avoid those that have only narrow applicability to a few specialists.

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