Transform: The Power of Change
A Prescription for Fewer Errors
The statistics on preventable medication errors are well known: Conservatively, more than 770,000 errors occur each year across the U.S., costing each hospital up to $5.6 million. Yet the adoption of computerized physician order entry (CPOE), a clinical decision support system offering lifesaving protection against these errors, has been woefully slow.
NEHI was determined to change that, by proving the errors' prevalence and the effectiveness of technology in reducing them. In partnership with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC), NEHI studied 4,200 charts from six representative community hospitals, finding that one in ten patients suffered a preventable medication injury. Further, if CPOE -- which alerts practitioners to potential drug interactions and provides prescription dosage guidance -- were implemented, we found that these errors could be reduced by 70 percent, saving each hospital $2.7 million annually. At this rate, a CPOE system could provide full payback for the hospitals' initial investment in just over two years.
This undeniable clinical and financial evidence spurred immediate action by payers and policymakers alike. Following the release of our report, Saving Lives, Saving Money, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts -- the state's largest insurer -- announced that by 2012 all hospitals in Massachusetts would be required to use CPOE as a threshold for participation in their quality incentive programs. And Massachusetts has enacted a new law requiring hospitals to adopt CPOE by 2012 as a standard of eligibility for licensure.
NEHI's research highlights the enormous promise of a powerful technology to improve patient care and now stands as a compelling case study for other states and the federal government.