Definition

computerized physician order entry (CPOE)

Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) is the process of entering medication orders or other physician instructions electronically instead of on paper charts. The use of a CPOE system can help reduce errors related to poor handwriting or transcription of medication orders.  

Although CPOE systems are designed to mimic the workflow of the paper chart, their adoption has been slow, largely because of the disruption to existing care settings and the cost of implementation, which includes training. CPOE systems are often used in tandem with e-prescribing systems, which alert physicians and clinicians to a particular patient’s drug allergies and current medications.

Implementing CPOE is a major requirement for Stage 1 meaningful use eligibility. According to the provisions of the Healthcare Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, healthcare organizations that have achieved meaningful use by 2011 will be eligible for incentive payments; those who have failed to achieve that standard by 2015 may be penalized.  A 2009 study by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the New England Healthcare Institute concluded that CPOE systems could save hospitals up to $2.7 million a year, compared to a cost of $2.1 million for implementation and $435,000 for annual maintenance. 

Learn more:

CPOE is required for stage 1 meaningful use.

How computerized physician order entry can help physicians reap cost benefits.

Mobile health technology could speed adoption of CPOE.

Contributor(s): Brian Eastwood
This was last updated in April 2010
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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