Objective: Computerized provider order entry (CPOE) with clinical decision support (CDS) can help hospitals improve care. Little is known about what CDS is presently in use and how it is managed, however, especially in community hospitals. This study sought to address this knowledge gap by identifying standard practices related to CDS in US community hospitals with mature CPOE systems.
Materials and methods: Representatives of 34 community hospitals, each of which had over 5 years experience with CPOE, were interviewed to identify standard practices related to CDS. Data were analyzed with a mix of descriptive statistics and qualitative approaches to the identification of patterns, themes and trends.
Results: This broad sample of community hospitals had robust levels of CDS despite their small size and the independent nature of many of their physician staff members. The hospitals uniformly used medication alerts and order sets, had sophisticated governance procedures for CDS, and employed staff to customize CDS.
Discussion: The level of customization needed for most CDS before implementation was greater than expected. Customization requires skilled individuals who represent an emerging manpower need at this type of hospital.
Conclusion: These results bode well for robust diffusion of CDS to similar hospitals in the process of adopting CDS and suggest that national policies to promote CDS use may be successful.