Order set

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An order set is a group of related orders which a physician can place with a few keystrokes or mouse clicks. An order set allows users to issue prepackaged groups of orders that apply to a specified diagnosis or a particular period of time. One of the main impetuses for order sets comes from the need to improve user acceptance of computer-based physician order entry, by decreasing the time physicians require to enter orders. Using order sets reduces both time spent entering orders and terminal usage. [1][2] [3]


There are many reported benefits of order sets. Order sets represent a potential solution to the time constraints of busy physicians and may even improve quality and safety. Obstacles to overcome would include physician acceptance, costs of creation and maintenance, and user interface issues. [4]

Order set reduces medical errors, especially omission errors. It eases access to linked guidelines, integrate evidence based guidelines into daily physician's point of care-practice. They also facilitate ordering of routine parts of patients acre enabling the physicians to focus on unique need of Each patient

  1. Reduction of transcription errors.
  2. Promotion of adherence to consistent standards of care
  3. Focus attention upon unique features of a patient.
  4. Quicker order entry
  5. Reduction in delays due to inconsistent or incomplete orders

Order set

A Process for Creating and Maintaining Order Sets

  • Each specialty established an Expert Panel responsible for identifying desired order sets, creating them (on paper) and insuring broad consensus from the specialty/division.
  • Order sets were reviewed by our CPOE Advisory Group for consistency, adherence to our standard practices, errors, technical feasibility, etc...
  • Once approved by this group they were sent to our Medical Care Evaluation Committee which consists of all the Quality Chairs from each department for final endorsement.
  • After this they were built in the system and then all the Expert Panels reconvened to perform final usability testing and QA checking prior to go live.
  • We have a calendar for annual order set review and a process in place for folks to submit their requests for changes to existing order sets or creation of new ones.


In our first 17 days following go live, 125 of the 139 order sets had been used at least once!

Staff required to maintain this process: We have 1.4 FTEs overseeing the ongoing development and QA of our order sets (.8 Project Manager and .6 Analyst) with strict oversight from an ongoing CPOE Advisory group that consists of the Assoc. CMIO, the staff MD who oversaw the original development (she also chairs the Med. Care Eval. Committee and oversees Utilization Mgmt.), IT, Pharmacy (as needed) and the CMIO.


Order sets are derived from evidence-based practice guidelines. Standardized order sets provide the physician with all relevant orders and reduce their reliance on memory. Order set are one of the basic building blocks of a clinical decision support system.

The First Controversy

When order set is implemented in health care organization, the clinician are not forced to use them, they have the choice to use them or not , so patients do not benefit when their care provider bypass order set usage , so presence of order set in a system does not guarantee that clinicians will use them Health Care organization implementing CPOE should provide creative mechanisms to make physicians aware of order set usage. The First approach is to provide a group of relevant order set at time of writing admission orders based on patients’ department (specialty unit). The Second approach is made by linkage between admission diagnosis and relevant order sets.

The Third approach is made by comparing admission orders as they are written to existing order sets to diagnose which order set might be applicable.

The three approaches represent ways or mechanisms to make order seta usage efficient and effective.

The Second Controversy

Paper based order set had limitations that CPOE based order set can overcome. Paper based order sets have achieved the goal of standardized care and decrease reliance on clinician’s memory , the electronic order sets have achieved the same benefits and information can be delivered easily to clinician when it is needed.

Paper based order set may not be available at the time the physician need it , there is also lag between physical change to paper based order set and practices changes and more efforts are needed to standardize health care across organization. for Example , an effort to standardize the management of post operative nausea and vomiting based on available evidence require updates to every surgical post operative order set.

The old version of paper based order set may be available in patient care area for months. Several CPOE developing organization have implemented “pop up” algorithmic “advisor” to customize order set to current patient state for Example , implementing heparin therapy advisor should take into consideration the current medication of patient(e.g., not adding heparin if the patient is already on streptokinase) and most recent laboratory results .it’s not always easy to determine when to implement a given protocol as an order set or as “pop up” advisor.

The Third Controversy

Order set implementation without organization standards and inadequate maintenance leads to practicing outdated medicine.

Implementing order set within the system may present a challenge , Naming of order set should be designed effectively to help clinician to locate order set in the system . it is better to name the order set with name of department (e.g., pediatric surgery )followed by procedure and make order set searchable by department, procedure name , pre/ post operation. Order set maintenance represent significant challenge in face of updating clinical knowledge, s o lack of communication between formulary and quality committees can lead to order set inconsistent with recommended evidence based practice.

The Fourth Controversy

As clinical knowledge advances rapidly , clinician should develop their own order set that can use for their patients , because organization may take some time to develop updating for new order set request , but allowing clinician to develop their own order set will remove the standardization of order set Northwestern Memorial Hospital, VA Puget Sound, and Hackensack university medical center have avoided building personal order set. It was realized that personal order set were neither valued nor often used .

Personal order sets

Individuals may create their own personal order sets by a variety of methods, and some are even available on the internet. In addition, some institutions have developed modifiable templates that allow physicians to customize their own order sets. [5] Mostly, however, order sets are developed by a group of physicians or a department with a particular clinical focus. They then come up with a set of diagnostic and treatment options that encompass current best practices. This latter approach results in a more limited number of order sets, and is easier to manage. [6] [7]

Related Articles

Default settings of computerized physician order entry system order sets drive ordering habits

Making Sense of Clinical Practice: Order Set Design Strategies in CPOE

Data-driven order set generation and evaluation in the pediatric environment.

Enhancing Physician Adoption of CPOE: The Search for a Perfect Order Set


  1. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2215063
  2. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1480158

submitted by Shaimaa Hussein Abd Elghani