How Virginia Mason plans to implement, optimize CPOE

Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) can potentially help providers avert medication errors and limit the use of valuable resources. For instance, Stanford Hospital & Clinic reported last year that use of a CPOE alert system within its electronic health record helped providers significantly cut back on the use of blood products between 2009 and 2012.

What's more, researchers from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found last spring that displaying the cost of a test via CPOE prompted a 9 percent reduction in the number of tests ordered.

To that end, Arthur James Bender (pictured), M.D., medical director of health information at Virginia Mason Medical Center, believes that ongoing CPOE implementation efforts at his Seattle-based hospital can lead to improvements for both patients and providers.

"[E]veryone's job gets easier when waste is removed from the patient experience," Bender--who will participate in FierceHealthIT's June 25 free webinar "Boosting physician adoption of CPOE to maximize its benefits"--told FierceHealthIT in an exclusive interview.

Bender also talked about ownership of the project, as well as the importance of facility-wide involvement.

FierceHealthIT: Your 2014 goal is to fully deploy an ambulatory CPOE across seven clinics and 450 providers. That's quite a lot of ground to cover and impacts a lot of people. What tangible results do you expect to see from this implementation?

Bender: First and foremost, we hope to see improved patient experience. We also want to reduce the burden of work for staff and providers. We know that everyone's job gets easier when waste is removed from the patient experience.

We also expect our efforts will result in improved coding and use of the electronic health record, and better overall economics.

FHIT: You've mentioned that the project is less an IT initiative than it is an operational project. What makes that the case, and who "owns" the project if it's not IT folks?

Bender: We have a leadership structure for these projects with joint facilitation by IT and operations, but sponsorship by clinical leaders who are making key decisions and driving the agenda. Leader accountability is critical for the success of any project, let alone one this large. 

FHIT: Can you talk about the importance of establishing and maintaining quality relationships in this process? Everyone from clinicians to executives to vendors needs to be on the same page. How are you ensuring that happens?

Bender: This is the product of our structure and the use of our tools. Our process improvement workshops are sponsored and led by operational leadership with IT in a "supplier" role.

We encourage a shared "eyes on the prize"' mentality of doing this for our patients, which creates alignment.

At the end of the day, our role as leaders is to facilitate these relationships. I knew we had done something right when we started hearing from our clinical teams, "I've heard so much about this that I can't wait to do it!"

Editor's Note: To hear more from Bender and others about the advantages of CPOE implementation, register to attend FierceHealthIT's free, live webinar "Boosting physician adoption of CPOE to maximize its benefits," which takes place on Wednesday, June 25, at 2 p.m. ET.