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How CPOE Will Make Healthcare Smarter

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, December 3, 2013

One provider's CIO says he picked an EHR, from Medhost, with just such a design. "It is a picture: You look at it, you can figure it out," says Lee Powe, CIO of Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, which has 81 acute care beds in Elkin, N.C. Clinicians in the emergency department have lots of visual cues. "You see a test tube with blood in it, and it means something. Graphics and pictures are good for clinical people. They see it. They get it."

Other hospitals have been up to speed with CPOE for a number of years and took the meaningful use requirements more in stride.

At Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center, two electronic medical records have been live since 2005, with the early elements of CPOE beginning in 2007, says George Hickman, executive vice president and CIO of the 714-licensed-bed teaching hospital. CPOE "is not one of those the things that's a concern for us going forward in terms of the high level of physician adoption." Incoming medical residents "expect walking in the door to have all these capabilities in there waiting, so that's the way our new doctors are," he says.

Hickman, who also serves as the current chair of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, acknowledges that achieving CPOE compliance in meaningful use does not necessarily achieve the greater goal of leaving paper behind.

"What really starts taking away from paper is when all of the supporting clinical documentation becomes paperless and is available only in an online form," Hickman says. "We have something in the range of 50–60 of our documentation forms automated and CPOE online. We have not yet fully implemented all standardized and structured physician documentation."

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