Computer physician order entry: benefits, costs, and issues

Ann Intern Med. 2003 Jul 1;139(1):31-9. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-139-1-200307010-00010.


Several analyses have detected substantial quality problems throughout the health care system. Information technology has consistently been identified as an important component of any approach for improvement. Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) is a promising technology that allows physicians to enter orders into a computer instead of handwriting them. Because CPOE fundamentally changes the ordering process, it can substantially decrease the overuse, underuse, and misuse of health care services. Studies have documented that CPOE can decrease costs, shorten length of stay, decrease medical errors, and improve compliance with several types of guidelines. The costs of CPOE are substantial both in terms of technology and organizational process analysis and redesign, system implementation, and user training and support. Computerized physician order entry is a relatively new technology, and there is no consensus on the best approaches to many of the challenges it presents. This technology can yield many significant benefits and is an important platform for future changes to the health care system. Organizational leaders must advocate for CPOE as a critical tool in improving health care quality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Misuse / economics
  • Hospital Information Systems / economics*
  • Hospital Information Systems / organization & administration
  • Hospital Information Systems / standards*
  • Humans
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / economics
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / organization & administration
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / standards
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control
  • Quality of Health Care*