CareGroup Pilots Web Physician's Order Entry System

CareGroup Healthcare System Inc., the second largest integrated delivery system in the northeastern United States, is launching a Web-based system aimed at radically reducing medical errors. The Physician's Order Entry (POE) system, now being piloted at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, works via a seamless data connection built on InterSystems Corp.’s high-performance CACHÉ database, a post-relational database with a multidimensional data and application server offering ultra-fast and massively scalable objects and SQL.

The new POE system aims to allay a problem cited in reports recently published by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science. The report "To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System" states that more people die each year as a result of medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer or AIDS.

"Typically, physicians either write a prescription by hand or call it in by phone; both scenarios leave openings for error," says CareGroup CIO Dr. John Halamka. "The Web-based POE presents physicians with medically accepted drug options for their patient's condition. Orders can be crosschecked for drug interactions, patient allergies and duplicate drug orders. Additionally, lab results can be displayed to help with prescription decisions." Orders are automatically sent to an in-hospital pharmacy system that, in turn, relays the order to a medical device that automatically opens the right door for the appropriate medication which is date- and time-stamped.

"Voice communication, handwritten orders and re-keying data are eliminated. As a result, patients will receive optimal care, and medication-related errors should be cut significantly," states Halamka.

The POE system is wireless-ready and can be accessed through wireless laptops, handhelds and physicians' home PCs. CareGroup will invest $2 million in a systemwide rollout after production. With costs from each adverse medical event estimated at $5,000, the system is expected to pay for itself within a year. "This is a best-case scenario where care quality and patient safety are increased while reducing the cost of healthcare delivery," Halamka says.

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