Electronic standing orders in EHRs improve preventive care

Utilizing electronic standing orders in electronic health records improves patient treatment, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.  

Standing orders are useful since they enable nurses and other ancillary staff to carry out medical orders without a physician's examination. The 21-month pilot demonstration study, conducted by researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, studied eight primary care physician practices in eight states. The practices ranged from two to 25 clinicians per practice. The standing orders were applied to 15 measures involving screenings, immunizations and diabetes care, such as flu shots, cholesterol checks and bone mineral density.  

The researchers found statistically significant improvement of six of the 15 measures. All of the practices significantly improved in at least three of the 15 measures; two of them achieved significant improvement in 14 measures.

The researchers noted that it helped that the practices in the study successfully adopted the EHR standing order tools, that they appeared not to increase clinicians' time burdens and that staff "embraced" their use.

"Technical competence and leadership are needed to optimally adapt and use EHR reminder tools and to help staff adopt new roles and overcome barriers," the researchers pointed out.

Other studies have shown that EHR use improved the rates of preventive care provided in women's health, such as mammograms as well as improved the treatment of chronic conditions, including diabetes care. EHRs also have been shown to improve hospital nursing care, so long as nurses are adequately trained in the systems.

To learn more:
- here's the study