Friday, May 7, 2010

Computerized Physician Order Entry May Lower Mortality

At last, a study that shows that the millions of dollars we have all been pouring into computerized health records may actually show a real benefit in terms of quality of care delivered. And what more important measure is there than mortality.

A new study at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University in California found that CPOE cut mortality rates by as much as 20%, which translates to 36 fewer deaths at the hospital in 18 months. That is really significant. In fact it is the lowest rate ever observed in a children's hospital according to the author.

It should be kept in mind that this is a small study and was not in a completely controlled environment. It is possible that other factors also had an influence on the dramatic drop in mortality. But even so, the impact of properly implemented CPOE can not be argued. According to the author, it was the well planned implementation that set this project apart from others that failed to show this kind of impact. There was also the investment of $50 million just on CPOE as part of a $600-700 million budget for the entire information system.

So as hospitals continue to make significant capital investments into computerized information systems to stay in compliance with all of the mandates, it is good to know that there may be some real benefits out there from a quality perspective. We all learned years ago that the preliminary promises of computerized systems saving you FTEs were not true. I would be quite satisfied though if I knew I was saving lives.

More on this later.

Mark Brodeur

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