Takoma Regional Hospital said goodbye this week to the days of handwritten physician and provider orders for all inpatients in favor of a new, computerized system designed to drastically reduce medical errors and speed up patient care.
Takoma Regional launched its computerized provider order entry system, commonly referred to as CPOE in health care, Tuesday at 6 a.m. The Greeneville hospital joins larger hospitals serving metropolitan areas – such as University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville – at the forefront of this new medical technology designed to improve patient safety.
With the installation of CPOE for inpatient care, Takoma Regional is among the top 4 percent of the nation’s hospitals that have a fully-integrated electronic medical records system.
Takoma Regional leaders and staff members joined leaders from Adventist Health System – which jointly operates Takoma Regional in a partnership with Wellmont Health System – for a brief dedication ceremony Monday evening held to celebrate the implementation of CPOE. Adventist Health System chose Takoma Regional as the first AHS hospital – among its 37 hospitals – to pilot CPOE.
“This is gratifying for everyone in the Takoma Regional family, Wellmont and Adventist Health System, because it’s another instance where we’re adopting new technology to make our hospital the best it can be,” said Carlyle Walton, president and chief executive officer of Takoma Regional. “I’m excited for our employees and the medical staff and proud of their efforts to bring this project to fruition. But I’m most excited for our patients, because CPOE will help us reduce medical errors and deliver safer, superior care.”
Physicians and providers will now enter their medical orders directly into Takoma Regional’s electronic medical record system – called iConnect – to eliminate the trail of paper orders and notes that can delay patient care and contribute to medical errors. Dr. Philip Smith, vice president and chief medical information officer for Adventist Health System, said estimates show between 100,000 and 250,000 patients die each year from medical errors.
By implementing a full-scale CPOE system, Dr. Smith said 75 percent of medication errors can be reduced. And CPOE offers even more advantages to the user, Dr. Smith said.
“Just eliminating handwriting alone eliminates errors,” Dr. Smith said, “but with other systems in place, such as a system to recognize drug interactions or allergy interactions for patients, these errors are reduced even further.
“Takoma Regional’s system will have these other systems that identify drug or allergy interactions.”
Dr. Smith and Walton said implementation of CPOE was accomplished only through the combined commitment of numerous individuals at Takoma Regional and Adventist Health. Leaders at Takoma Regional who served crucial roles in the project include Tammy Albright, director of clinical informatics; Tom Vandenhoven, chief financial officer; Dr. Fred Myers, chief medical officer; Terri Marcum, chief nursing officer; and Wes Gattis, physician liaison.
Walton said it’s possible for a hospital to adopt CPOE only if members of the medical staff are willing to put away their doctor’s pad and pen in favor of typing on a computer keyboard.
“Through their commitment to make a fairly radical change in how they deliver patient orders, our physicians and providers have shown their commitment to doing what’s best for patients and what’s best for Takoma Regional,” Walton said. “This is the age of healthcare technology, and our hospital is honored to be a leader with new solutions and new paradigms.”
Takoma Regional employees have been preparing for the transition for more than a year. Dr. Smith said the effort of learning something new will undoubtedly benefit patients.
“CPOE is safer – there’s less chance of misinterpretation of handwritten orders. It’s more efficient because there are fewer steps, and fewer steps means reduction of errors,” Dr. Smith said. “With providers entering orders directly into the system, it’s no one else’s interpretation of what the plan is. We’re removing the middle man between the provider and the patient’s treatment.”