Computer physician order entry, patient-generated data and big data are taking off, according to American Hospital Association survey.

Alex Kane Rudansky, Associate editor for InformationWeek Healthcare

July 17, 2013

3 Min Read

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The American Hospital Association has released the results of its latest Most Wired survey and the numbers reflect an increasing embrace of healthcare technology by hospitals. The most significant upward trends: computer physician order entry (CPOE), patient-generated data and use of big data.

InformationWeek spoke with health IT experts about why these numbers matter and what they mean for the future of healthcare technology.

CPOE: 60% of hospitals said medication orders are entered electronically.
The greater use of CPOE is an expected upward trend, said Lorren Pettit, VP of market research at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). Using CPOE has become a condition of employment at hospitals, he said, and the numbers will only increase with time. According to HIMSS data, 75% of hospitals have CPOE installed or are contracted to install it, he said.

Part of the increased use of CPOE is due to the shift from physician order entry to practitioner order entry, said Pettit. Practitioners, not just physicians, are increasingly using the computer entry system. "We need to be shifting the conversation away from physicians entering orders and move it to the practitioners," he said.

Just like any healthcare technology, adoption of CPOE has been a challenge. "There's a concern, almost a fear, of dictating to physicians who are not employed by the hospital that they must use the EMR," Pettit said. "CPOE is really that first technology where the physician has to be bought in to use it."

This cultural shift won't happen overnight, Pettit said, but it will happen. The move toward employed physicians in a hospital has been well-received. Employment brings the expectation of EMR use and therefore CPOE use. "It's a given nowadays," Pettit said.

Patient-generated data: 41% provide a patient portal.
The driving force behind the adoption of patient portals are Meaningful Use regulations. A requirement for MU stage one is patient empowerment, intended to provide the opportunity for patients to take a more active role in their health to improve patient outcomes.

The future of electronic care will include patient-generated data, said John Halamka, CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. For example, patients might visit a Web page provided to allow them to enter how they are feeling. This will both keep patients engaged in their health and provide practitioners with more data in order to improve patient outcomes.

Big data: 32% conduct controlled experiments or scenario planning to make better management decisions.
This number signifies a shift toward an emphasis on big-data analytics. "We've been collecting data, and now it's the 'So what?' question," Pettit said. "Hospitals are going to have to become more sophisticated as they use analytics."

Part of this sophistication will include creating a new senior role, that of chief analytics officer. An increased emphasis on big data analysis not only improves patient care, but decreases costs, as the data can identify gaps in care.

All of these numbers will continue to rise as hospitals and health companies increasingly embrace health IT, said Pettit.

"You eat the elephant one bite at a time. To do it right, an organization has to be very purposeful in its implementation," he noted. "You can't just flip the switch and expect all doctors to change their entire practice patterns."

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About the Author(s)

Alex Kane Rudansky

Associate editor for InformationWeek Healthcare

Alex Kane Rudansky is an associate editor for InformationWeek Healthcare. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, The Boston Globe and The Miami Herald, among others. She is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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