Objective: To evaluate the benefits of computerized physician order entry (POE) and electronic medication administration record (eMAR) on the delivery of health care.
Design: Inpatient nursing units in an academic health system were the setting for the study. The study comprised before-and-after comparisons between phase 1, pre-implementation of POE (pre-POE) and phase 2, post-implementation of POE (post-POE) and, within phase 2, a comparison of POE and the combination of POE plus eMAR. Length of stay and cost were compared pre- and post-POE for a period of 10 to 12 months across all services in the respective hospitals.
Measurements: Comparisons were made pre- and post-POE for the time intervals between initiation and completion of pharmacy (pre-POE, n=46; post-POE, n=70), radiology (pre-POE, n=11; post-POE, n=54), and laboratory orders (without POE, n=683; with POE, n=1,142); timeliness of countersignature of verbal order (University Hospitals [OSUH]: pre-POE, n=605; post-POE, n=19,225; James Cancer Hospital (James): pre-POE, n=478; post-POE, n=10,771); volume of nursing transcription errors (POE with manual MAR, n=888; POE with eMAR, n=396); length of stay and total cost (OSUH: pre-POE, n=8,228; post-POE, n=8,154; James: (pre-POE, n=6,471; post-POE, n=6,045).
Results: Statistically significant reductions were seen following the implementation of POE for medication turn-around times (64 percent, from 5:28 hr to 1:51 hr; p<0.001), radiology procedure completion times (43 percent, from 7:37 hr to 4:21 hr; p<0.05), and laboratory result reporting times (25 percent, from 31:3 min to 23:4 min; p=0.001). In addition, POE combined with eMAR eliminated all physician and nursing transcription errors. There were 43 and 26 percent improvements in order countersignature by physicians in OSUH and James, respectively. Severity-adjusted length of stay decreased in OSUH (pre-POE, 3.91 days; post-POE, 3.71 days; p=0.002), but not significantly in James (pre-POE, 3.68 days; post-POE, 3.61 days; p=0.356). Although total cost per admission decreased significantly in selected services, it did not change significantly across either institution (OSUH: pre-POE, $5,697; post-POE, $5,661; p=0.687; James: pre-POE, $6,427; post-POE, $6,518; p=0.502).
Conclusion: Physician order entry and eMAR provided the framework for improvements in patient safety and in the timeliness of care. The significant cultural and workflow changes that accompany the implementation of POE did not adversely affect acuity-adjusted length of stay or total cost. The reductions in transcription errors, medication turn-around times, and timely reporting of results supports the view that POE and eMAR provide a good return on investment.