Few Hospitals Installing Computerized Order Entry Systems
The New York Times on Tuesday examined many physicians' resistance to adopt computer technology as recommended by a 1999 Institute of Medicine report that called for eliminating "most handwritten clinical data by the end of the decade" in order to reduce patient deaths caused by personnel errors. Less than 1% of U.S. private hospitals have fully met the standards for approval by the Leapfrog Group -- a national organization of employers seeking to improve quality of care -- which requires 75% of a hospital's doctors to electronically order prescriptions and tests. Physicians at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said last year that a computerized system implemented at the facility was "too great a distraction," and they forced its withdrawal. Other hospitals have said the multimillion dollar systems are too expensive without subsidies from the government or big employers. The cost to install a system in an average-sized hospital was estimated at $7.9 million, with continuing costs at $1.34 million a year, according to a 2003 study by the California-based First Consulting Group. The study, conducted for the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals, said such systems would result in some savings, but none of the surveyed hospitals thought such a system would pay for itself. President Bush mentioned the issue in his State of the Union address and asked Congress for $100 million in the 2005 budget to promote information technology for medical facilities. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has also spoken in favor of computerized systems, but "no one has proposed spending the $20 billion or more it would cost" to install systems in every hospital by the end of the decade, the Times reports (Freudenheim, New York Times, 4/6). In a separate piece, the Times on Tuesday looked at the computerized system at Weiler Hospital of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, which has cost more than $100 million and cut the error rate of inpatient prescriptions from 12% to 2.5% (Perez-Pena, New York Times, 4/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.