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Let’s Consider Two New Emerging Medical Delivery Models

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Entrepreneurial, New-Wave and Outside-the-Box Competitive Models

Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™

www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

[Publisher-in-Chief]

I travel quite a bit in my professional and personal life. And, have been told possess an above-average curiosity in all things medical management. I look – see and report. So, what have I noted recently?

There are a number of new-wave health care delivery models now being explored to improve the manner in which medical care can be delivered. Let’s take a quick look at two emerging options at both the individual and institutional levels.

1. The Micro Medical Practice [MMP]

A micro medical practice [MMP] is a low overhead, high-tech, labor reduced and often mobile office model that allows more physician control and patient face-time [i.e., Dr. Ramona Seidel, Annapolis, Maryland]. This concept can be extended to those patients who want or need to pay cash for their health care; high deductible health insurance, health insurance with high co pays and residuals, etc.

Or, the concept may include that seen with the practice of physician-assistant Cheryl DeMonner PA-C at the Micro Medical Practice of Santa Cruz County. William Morris MD is her supervising physician.

Source: www.micromedsc.com

2. Satisfaction Guaranteed Medical Care

At the Detroit Medical Center, patient focused medical care is taken to a competitive extreme with this promise:

“If our patients are not absolutely satisfied with any aspect of their inpatient service or overnight stay in a DMC hospital, we will credit their patient pay balance up to $100.”

Guarantee applies to all inpatient (or overnight) stays and all surgery services provided at a DMC hospital. Adjustment/Refund is dependent upon the nature of dissatisfaction as follows:

  • Tier 1 ($25) Problems with physical facilities
  • Tier 2 ($50) Inadequate communication
  • Tier 3 ($75) Excessive wait issues
  • Tier 4 ($100) Poor service from employees

And, they have the twenty-nine minute emergency room guarantee.

Source: http://doctorandpatient.blogspot.com/2007/01/29-minute-er-guarantee.html

Assessment

If you were to take a good guess as to what sort of new healthcare delivery business model will spring up next, you would be well served by looking at smaller private and more entrepreneurial entities [personal and primary care], rather than behemoth organizations [secondary or tertiary care].

Conclusion

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Implementation of the Healthcare Deficit Reduction Act

Signed by President Bush in 2006

By Gregory O. Ginn; PhD, MBA, CPA, MEd

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CMP™

The Deficit Reduction Act (DRA), S. 1932, was signed by President Bush on February 8, 2006, and became Public Law No. 109-171.  Implementation of the act includes these provisions:

www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

Subtitle A – Provisions Relating to Medicare Part A

  • hospital quality improvement (section 5001);
  • improvements to Medicare-dependent hospital (MDH) programs (section 5003);
  • reduction in payments to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs; section 5004);
  • phase-in of inpatient rehabilitation facility classification criteria (section 5005);
  • development of a strategic plan regarding investment in specialty hospitals (section 5006);
  • demonstration projects to permit gain-sharing arrangements (section 5007); and
  • post-acute care payment reform demonstration programs (section 5008).

Subtitle B  Provisions Relating to Medicare Part B

  • title transfer of certain durable medical equipment (DME) to patients after 13-month rental (section 5101);
  • adjustments in payment for imaging services (section 5102);
  • limitations on payments for procedures in ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs; section 5103);
  • minimum updates for physician services (section 5104);
  • three-year extension of hold-harmless provisions for small rural hospitals and sole community hospitals (section 5105);
  • updates on composite rate components of basic care-mix adjusted prospective payment systems (PPS) for dialysis services (section 5106);
  • accelerated implementation of income-related reductions in Part B premium subsidy (section 5111);
  • Medicare coverage of ultrasound screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms; National Educational And Information Campaign (section 5112);
  • improvements to patient access and utilization of colorectal cancer screening under Medicare (section 5113);
  • delivery of services at federally qualified health centers (FQHC) (section 5114); and
  • waiver of Part B Late Enrollment Penalty for certain international volunteers (section 5115).

Subtitle C – Provisions Relating To Parts A and B

  • home health payments (section 5201);
  • revision of period for providing payment for claims that are not submitted electronically (section 5202);
  • timeframe for Part A and B payments (section 5203); and
  • Medicare Integrity Program (MIP) funding (section 5204).

Subtitle D – Provisions Relating To Part C

  • phase-out of risk adjustment budget neutrality in determining payments to Medicare Advantage organizations (section 5301); and
  • Rural PACE Provider Grant Programs (section 5302).[1]

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The goal of the act is to save nearly $40 billion over five years from mandatory spending programs through slowing the growth in spending for Medicare and Medicaid. Has it been successful to-date?

Assessment

We know from personal experience that the DRA can be implemented by all healthcare stakeholders to the benefits of the industry sector in the aggregate. But, has it been?

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Editors Note: Gregory Ginn has been a professor in the Department of Health Care Administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, since 2000. He received his doctorate, MBA, M.Ed., and undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and is an inactive Certified Public Accountant registrant in the States of Nebraska and Texas. Before his current position at UNLV, he spent time teaching at Clarkson College, College of Saint Mary, University of Findlay, University of Central Texas, Stephen F. Austin State University, State University of New York at Buffalo, University of Houston at Victoria, University of Texas at Austin, and the Southwest Texas State University. Prior to his academic roles, he was an accountant for Touche Ross & Co., and an Internal Revenue Service Tax Auditor. Dr. Ginn has also been a reviewer for organizations such as: Health Care Management Review and the Health Care Administration Division of the Academy of Management. He is Treasurer for the Nevada Executive Health Care Forum and was a member of the Southern Nevada Wellness Council. His graduate teaching experience in healthcare administration is abundant, having taught courses in: Management of Health Services Organizations, Quantitative Methods, The U.S. Health Care System, Health Care Systems and Policy, Health Care Finance, Group Practice Management, Long-term Care, and Health Care Law.  He has been published in numerous journals, including Journal of Healthcare Management, Hospital Topics, Nursing Homes, Journal of Nursing Administration, International Electronic Journal of Health Education, and Hospital and Health Services Administration. His current and former professional memberships include: American College of Healthcare Executives, Nevada Executive Healthcare Forum, Academy of Management, Association of University Programs in Health Administration, Certified Medial Planner (Hon.) and Heartland Health Care Executives.

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On Hospital Revenue Cycles Management

Operational Considerations for Improvement

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko, FACFAS, MBA, CMP™

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CPHQ, CMP™

One of us has been an acute general care hospital administrator while the other vice-president of a clinical and medical staff.

Throughout our respective tenures, providing high quality care with improved health outcomes was our primary concern – and actually is that of most hospitals of any size, geography, or demographic. Conflicts of interest were inevitable of course, and occasionally the interest of stakeholders collided, or was ignored. And, continually we realized – and were reminded – that money matters and the maxim “no margin, no mission” applies.

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Strong Management Required for Success

Nevertheless, the foundation of strong financial health ultimately lies in effective management of the hospital revenue cycle. And, strong internal management and leadership is the basis of an enhanced revenue cycle. In practical terms, effective management means understanding the process and targeting the core of the revenue cycle in order to fine-tune and support fiscal health and business growth.

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A Triad of Processes Groupers

For us, the processes of hospital revenue cycles were grouped in three areas corresponding to the journey of a patient through the system: the front door, the middle, and the back door; to the extent possible.

1. Front-door processes are termed patient access functions and revolve around scheduling, registration, pre-admission, and admissions. When these processes are streamlined and swift; the value is most evident to a hospitals’ customers, the patients, but it is also vital to the revenue maintenance (and enhancement) of the facility. The most effective and efficient time to accomplish patient access activities is when patients and their caregivers are together. Patient access needs to be handled by highly skilled and motivated employees who can accomplish a hospital’s goals for information capture while carrying out customer service objectives. This is also the optimal stage for achieving denial management.

2. Middle processes include case management (CM) and health information management (HIM).  Those involved in the CM function act as gatekeepers to review the appropriateness of clinic referrals and ensure financial clearance is established.  CM also involves developing a plan for discharge and monitoring to ensure it is timely and appropriate to the level of care.  Another important focus of CM is the freeing up of acute care beds.

The HIM functions revolve around document management, coding, transcription, and charge capture. Financial performance can be significantly improved when case management and HIM activities are optimized by using information technologies that are integrated with process and workflow. The end result can be an increase in revenue and reduction in regulatory risk.

3. Finally, back-door processes are termed patient financial services (PFS) functions and revolve around billing, collections, follow-up, and resolution. These are the business office billing and administrative functions that support the front-line caregivers and that interface with external payers and patients to resolve outstanding accounts receivable. Back-door processes bring significant value to hospitals by reducing administrative costs, increasing collections levels, and dramatically lowering the percentage of aged accounts receivables [ARs].

Assessment

Modern hospitals today that are seeking to improve their bottom lines through better-managed and enhanced revenue cycle operations in these three areas front, middle, and back usually encounter challenges with people, processes, and technology. These challenges may be addressed by incorporating following:

  • optimizing organizational structure;
  • raising the bar through benchmarking; and
  • adopting appropriate technology.

Editors: We appreciate the ME-P input of Karen White PhD and Ross Fidler. 

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Conclusion

Now, please tell us your hospital revenue cycles story and how these challenges were executed; successfully or not!  What benchmarks did you use for them, and were any others required. Do these operational activities conflict or compliment each other; how and why or why not?

Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe. It is fast, free and secure.

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Understanding Patient-Focused Healthcare

Emerging Trend Focuses on the Patient

By Gregory O. Ginn; PhD, MBA, CPA, MEd

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CMP™

One swelling competitive medical administration and clinical trend is patient-focused and holistic healthcare, which centers on patient needs and attempts to humanize patient care.

Definition

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Patient-focused healthcare therefore incorporates the following concepts, among others:

  • patient education;
  • active participation of the patient;
  • involvement of the family;
  • nutrition;
  • art; and
  • music.

These are thought to improve patient outcomes. Further, some think that patients will benefit from learning how to cope with healthcare processes before they enter into those processes and that this knowledge will result in better outcomes.

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An example of this would be classes to prepare couples for childbirth. These classes teach prospective parents the different stages of labor and strategies for dealing with the challenges associated with each stage. They cover options for pain management such as breathing and relaxation techniques and/or analgesics. The classes also provide education about clinical options such as induced labor and caesarian sections, and they cover practical issues such as what to wear and what kind of car seat to buy to transport the newborn home.

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Assessment

We know from personal experience that this type of education is enormously beneficial in reducing stress and improving the decision-making ability of patients who are involved in healthcare processes.

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Editors Note: Gregory Ginn has been a professor in the Department of Health Care Administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, since 2000. He received his doctorate, MBA, M.Ed., and undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and is an inactive Certified Public Accountant registrant in the States of Nebraska and Texas. Before his current position at UNLV, he spent time teaching at Clarkson College, College of Saint Mary, University of Findlay, University of Central Texas, Stephen F. Austin State University, State University of New York at Buffalo, University of Houston at Victoria, University of Texas at Austin, and the Southwest Texas State University. Prior to his academic roles, he was an accountant for Touche Ross & Co., and an Internal Revenue Service Tax Auditor. Dr. Ginn has also been a reviewer for organizations such as: Health Care Management Review and the Health Care Administration Division of the Academy of Management. He is Treasurer for the Nevada Executive Health Care Forum and was a member of the Southern Nevada Wellness Council. His graduate teaching experience in healthcare administration is abundant, having taught courses in: Management of Health Services Organizations, Quantitative Methods, The U.S. Health Care System, Health Care Systems and Policy, Health Care Finance, Group Practice Management, Long-term Care, and Health Care Law.  He has been published in numerous journals, including Journal of Healthcare Management, Hospital Topics, Nursing Homes, Journal of Nursing Administration, International Electronic Journal of Health Education, and Hospital and Health Services Administration. His current and former professional memberships include: American College of Healthcare Executives, Nevada Executive Healthcare Forum, Academy of Management, Association of University Programs in Health Administration, Certified Medial Planner (Hon.) and Heartland Health Care Executives.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

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On Hospital CPOE Systems [Part Two]

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Computerized Physician Order Entry Systems

By Brent Metfessel; MD, MIS

A significant initial cost outlay for an organization-wide CPOE system is necessary, which for a large hospital may run into the tens of millions of dollars.  Understandably, the majority of the hospitals that have installed a CPOE system are large urban hospitals.  The up-front cost outlay may be prohibitive for smaller or rural hospitals unless there is an increase in outside revenue or third-party subsidies.

However, although it may take a few years before a positive ROI becomes manifest, there can be a significant financial return from such systems.

www.CPOE.org

Potential Benefits

The potential benefits of a CPOE system go beyond quality. Significant decreases in resource utilization can occur. In one study, inpatient costs were 12% lower and average Length of Stay (LOS) was 0.89 day shorter for patients residing on general medicine wards that used a CPOE system with decision support. Rather simple decision support tools can reap cost benefits as well. When a computerized antibiotic advisor was integrated with the ordering process, one institution realized a reduction in costs per patient ($26,325 vs. $35,283) and average LOS (10.0 days vs. 12.9 days), with all differences statistically significant.

Studies have shown that CPOE systems can significantly reduce medication error rates, including rates of serious errors.

For example, one large east coast hospital saw a 55% reduction in serious adverse medication errors after the system was installed. However, on occasion errors can actually be introduced due to the computing process; in particular, errors can be introduced if the provider accidentally selects the wrong medication from the list or drop-down menu.

Accordingly, a CPOE system should not be viewed as a replacement for the pharmacist in terms of checking for medication errors. In addition, proper user interface design such as highlighting every other line on the medication screen for better visibility and having the provider give a final check to the orders before sending are some ways of reducing this kind of error. Overall, error rates from incorrect order entry on the computer are much smaller than other medication errors prior to introduction of the system.

Appropriate use of a CPOE system helps prevent errors and quality of care deficiencies due to problems with the initiation of orders.  However, errors can also occur in the execution of orders, particularly with the administration of medications to patients.  Bar coding of medications, discussed previously, is a simple way to close the loop in medication error prevention as well as further increase the efficiency of workflow.

Despite its advantages, a CPOE system has been implemented on an organization-wide basis in only about 45% of all US hospitals and growth in implementations has been relatively slow, although about 67% plan to add a CPOE system in the next few years.  Implementing a CPOE system is not an easy task, and there is a significant risk of failure.  Most hospitals utilize vendors for implementation rather than attempting to develop the system in-house given the difficulty of hiring full-time IT talent that specializes in CPOE systems.

One critical feature of any CPOE system is to obtain physician buy-in to the technology, since they will be doing most of the ordering.  Actually, unless the system is of the highest sophistication, physicians may claim it takes more time to write orders using a CPOE system than using the paper chart, as there may be a number of drop-down menus to negotiate prior to arriving at the appropriate drug.  Real-time retrieval of information and electronic documentation, provision of on-line alerts, and the ability to use standard order sets (prepackaged sets of orders pertaining to a particular clinical condition or time period in an episode of care), when relevant, can make the net time spent on writing orders similar to using paper charts.

Doctor Acceptance

It is also important, for physician acceptance, to not overwhelm them with on-line alerts.  Clearly, the system needs to point out the more serious errors, but if the physician’s process is frequently interrupted by alerts, they may increasingly resist the system.

For example, medication allergy alerts may warn physicians not only of potential problems with medications that have an exact match to the allergen, but also, as a defensive maneuver (“better safe than sorry”), to other medications that have a related molecular structure,, even though the patient may already be taking such medication and tolerating it well.  Furthermore, allergies to medications that may result in life-threatening anaphylactic shock may not be distinguished from “sensitivities” that consist of side effects that are not true allergies and are usually much less serious.

Thus, the potential exists for frequent alert generation that would interrupt the work flow and require time spent to override the alerts, making the system difficult to use and leading to user resistance.  One suggested solution is to have a hierarchy of importance, with alerts for potentially life-threatening situations being allowed to interrupt the work flow and requiring specific override or acknowledgment, and alerts for less serious problems being “noninterruptive,” allowing easy visibility of the alert without requiring stoppage of the work flow.

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CPOE Pitfalls

Other pitfalls with respect to CPOE systems include the following:

  • crowded menus making it easy to select the wrong patient or wrong drug with the mouse;
  • fragmented information necessitating navigation through numerous screens to find the relevant information;
  • computer downtime (scheduled or unscheduled); and
  • location of terminals in busy places, which can lead to distractions and resulting incomplete or incorrect entries.

Intelligent, well-thought-out system designs can serve to mitigate many of these problems.  It is important that such difficulties appear on the systems designers’ “radar screen” and are explicitly considered in the implementation.

Pharmacists

As for pharmacists, a CPOE system will not take them out of the process. Although a CPOE system has the capability to capture many drug errors and remove the need for manual order entry, there will always be a need for pharmacists to not only give a second look at possible errors, but to take a more active role in patient care, including going on ward rounds for complex cases, defining optimal treatment, and giving consultative advice.

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Assessment

A CPOE system has the potential to give physicians ready access to patient data anywhere in the hospital as well as at home or on the road, especially with Internet-based connections. This is significant given the difficulty in obtaining patient charts for mobile providers.

In today’s environment of high expectations for care quality and pay-for-performance initiatives, enhanced quality of care can translate into financial gain. Although there is a significant up-front allocation of funds for CPOE systems, given present trends the time may arrive where there is no longer a choice but to implement such a system.

Conclusion

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INSURANCE: Risk Management and Insurance Strategies for Physicians and Advisors

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On Hospital CPOE Systems [Part One]

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Computerized Physician Order Entry Systems

[By Brent Metfessel MD, MIS]

Since the late 1990s, there has been increasing pressure for hospitals to develop processes to ensure quality of care. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has estimated the number of annual deaths from medical error to be 44,000 to 98,000.  Manual entry of orders, use of non-standard abbreviations, and poor legibility of orders and chart notes contribute to medical errors.  They also concluded that most errors are the result of system failures, not people failures.

www.CPOE.org

Other studies suggest that between 6.5% and 20% of hospitalized patients will experience an adverse drug event (ADE) during their stay. Both quality and cost of care suffer.  The cost for each ADE is estimated to be about $2,000 to $2,500, mainly resulting from longer lengths of stay. The National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics reported that about 23,000 hospital patients die annually from injuries linked specifically to the use of medications.

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The Joint Commission and the Leapfrog Group

In addition, the Joint Commission and the Leapfrog Group, a consortium of large employers, have pushed patient safety as a high priority and hospitals are following suit. The Leapfrog Group in particular highlighted CPOE systems as one of the changes that would most improve patient safety.  These patient safety initiatives have further advanced CPOE systems, since these systems have the reduction of medical errors as a prime function.  State and federal legislatures have also stepped up activity in this regard.

For example, back in July 2004, the federal government strongly advocated for electronic medical records, including the creation of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to develop a National Health Information Network. Consequently, regional health information organizations have been established in many states, and these are used for the purpose of expediting the sharing and exchange of healthcare data and information, although there still remain issues in terms of providing adequate funding to these programs.

In addition, consideration was given to the allocation of grants and low-interest loans to aid hospitals in implementing healthcare technology solutions.  In 2000, California first enacted legislation (Senate Bill 1875) stating that as a condition of licensure, acute care hospitals, with the exception of small and rural hospitals, submit plans to implement technological solutions (such as CPOE systems) to substantially reduce medication-related errors by January 1, 2002. Hospitals in California had until January 1, 2005, to actually implement their medication error-reduction plans and make them operational. Unfortunately, many are still not in compliance today.

Health plans also entered the patient safety stage. In 2002, one large health plan in the northeast provided a 4% bonus to hospitals implementing a CPOE system and staffing intensive care units (ICUs) with “intensivists.” Today, this goal is almost the norm, but not yet reality for all.

More than Data Retrieval 

Many hospitals have “data retrieval” systems where a provider on the wards can obtain lab results and other information. A CPOE system, however, allows entry of data from the wards and is usually coupled with a “decision support” module that does just that — supports the provider in making decisions that maximize care quality and/or cost effectiveness.

In this application of HIT, physicians and possibly other providers enter hospital orders directly into the computer. Many vendors of such systems make special efforts to create an intuitive and user-friendly interface, with a variable range of customization possibilities. The physicians can enter orders either on a workstation on the ward or in some cases at the bedside.

Features of a True CPOE System

Basic features of CPOE should include the following:

  • Medication analysis system — A medication analysis program usually accompanies the order entry system. In such cases, either after order entry or interactively, the system checks for potential problems such as drug-drug interactions, duplicate orders, drug allergies and hypersensitivities, and dosage miscalculations. More sophisticated systems may also check for drug interactions with co-morbidities (e.g., psychiatric drugs that may increase blood pressure in a depressed patient with hypertension), drug-lab interactions (e.g., labs pointing to renal impairment that may adversely affect drug levels), and suggestions to use drugs with the same therapeutic effect but lower cost. Naturally, physicians have the option to decline the alerts and continue with the order. In fact, if there are alerts that providers are frequently overriding, providers will often provide feedback that can lead to modification of the alert paradigms. Encouraging feedback increases the robustness of the CPOE system and facilitates continuous quality improvement.
  • Order clarity — Reading the handwriting of providers is a legendary problem. Although many providers do perfectly well with legibility, other providers have difficulty due to being rushed, stressed, or due to trait factors. Since the orders are accessible directly on the workstation screen or from the printer, time is saved on callbacks to decipher illegible orders as well as preventing possible errors in order translation. A study in 1986 by Georgetown University Hospital (Washington, D.C.) noted that 16% of all manual medical records are illegible. Clarifying these orders takes professional time, and resources are spent duplicating the data; thus, real cost savings can be realized through the elimination of these processes.
  • Increased work efficiency — Instantaneous electronic transmittal of orders to radiology, laboratory, pharmacy, consulting services, or other departments replaces corresponding manual tasks. This increase in efficiency from a CPOE system has significant returns. In one hospital in the southeast, the time taken between drug order submission and receipt by the pharmacy was shortened from 96 minutes (using paper) to 3 minutes. Such an increase in efficiency can save labor costs and lead to earlier discharge of patients. The same hospital noted a 72% reduction in medication error rates during a three-month period after the system was implemented. Alerting providers to duplicate lab orders further saves costs from more efficient work processes. And, in another instance, the time from writing admission orders to execution of the orders decreased from about six hours to 30 minutes, underscoring CPOE system utility in making work processes more efficient; thus positively affecting the bottom line.

Assessment

In today’s environment of high expectations for care quality and pay-for-performance initiatives, enhanced quality of care can translate into financial gain. Although there is a significant up-front allocation of funds for CPOE systems, given present trends the time may arrive where there is no longer a choice but to implement such a system.

Conclusion

Although a Computerized Physician Order Entry system alone will reap significant benefits if intelligently implemented, in order to realize the greatest benefit a CPOE system should be rolled up into a fully functioning EMR system where feasible.

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