"It doesn't force the physicians to change their minds, but it gives them important information at the time that they're making that ordering decision," says Longhurst.
The hospital will be publishing outcomes based on this example that Longhurst says will show a 50% decrease in transfusion utilization outside of LPCH ICUs.
"That's a huge impact, and it happened very quickly without a lot of broad education," he says. "It happened with a single system implementation."
It's about more than medication errors
Reducing medication errors is one of the most vocal arguments proponents of EMR and CPOE systems use when lobbying for greater adoption rates. However, Longhurst and Widen say that medication errors typically don't contribute to an increase in patient mortality rates, which is the indicator looked at by their study.
"We were already doing very well from a medication safety standpoint, and our data did not show a significant impact on medication errors," says Longhurst. "While medication errors are certainly serious, they're very rarely fatal."
According to Widen, many other factors contribute to advance quality efforts. While groups like The Leapfrog Group hold a magnifying glass up to medication errors, LPCH is using technology to help advance its quality efforts and having a bigger impact on mortality rates.
"There are a lot of things that we do as an organization to keep quality going in the right direction," says Widen. "Medication error doesn't necessarily lead to harm. When you study things like harm, this is showing that there's an actual reduction in harm to patients using technology in a smart way."