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Emphasis on Support in Decision Support

Greg Freeman for HealthLeaders Media, May 14, 2012
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This article appears in the May 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Computer-based clinical decision-support systems offer great opportunities to improve care and reduce costs, but healthcare leaders have to remember who's ultimately in charge: the human operating the computer. Implementing even the best technology for decision support can become a costly, frustrating failure that ultimately degrades patient care if you don't factor in the human element.

That was one of the lessons learned when Penn Medicine in Philadelphia adopted a computerized physician order entry system. Penn Medicine used the Eclipsys Sunrise Clinical Manager to achieve 100% CPOE in the inpatient setting. In addition, 1,800 physicians actively use the Epic electronic medical record system in the ambulatory setting.

Physicians make about 15 million hits per year in Penn's internally developed physician portal to view patient information and results. All physicians have access to an internally developed data warehouse that maintains 2.4 billion rows of data to help ensure patient safety and quality care, as well as support clinical trials and research.

That success would not have come without ensuring clinician participation by involving them from the start, says Michael Restuccia, vice president and chief information officer of Penn Medicine, a $3.8 billion-a-year academic health system with nearly 2,100 physicians providing services to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Pennsylvania Hospital, and more than 250 ambulatory practices.

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