Early cost and safety benefits of an inpatient electronic health record

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There have been various reasons for hospitals to implement electronic health records (EHRs). Some of these reasons include penalties for healthcare facilities that do not demonstrate meaningful Use as well as financial benefits. In order to improve the quality of care delivered to patients as well as their safety, organizations such as the Institute of Medicine and Leapfrog have pushed for the implementation of EHRs, specifically the use of the computerized provider order entry (CPOE) function. [1]


An inpatient EHR was implemented at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center, a 325-bed hospital in Wisconsin. The EHR was implemented on November 1, 2008 and the CPOE function was added on February 4, 2009. Data were collected for a period of 1 year before and after EHR implementation. Measures of safety included medication events and measures of cost of care included paper use, laboratory and imaging tests, and transcription costs. Measures of quality that were studied included length of stay and readmissions that occurred within 30 days.


The study demonstrated a decrease in paper consumption due to the use of electronic documentation, as well as a decrease in transcription costs. The use of the EHR was also able to identify potential medication errors that would not have been identified without the use of an EHR. It decreased the rate of medication errors as well. Overall it was found that the implantation of an EHR, specifically with a CPOE function, reduced cost of care and improved patient safety.

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  1. Early cost and safety benefits of an inpatient electronic health record Jonathan A Zlabek, Jared W Wickus, Michelle A Mathiason Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association Mar 2011, 18 (2) 169-172; retrieved October 21, 2015 from http://jamia.oxfordjournals.org/content/18/2/169 DOI: 10.1136/jamia.2010.007229