Background: A standing order (SO) authorizes nurses and other staff to carry out medical orders per practice-approved protocol without a clinician's examination. This study implemented electronic SOs into the daily workflow of primary care practices; identified methods and strategies; determined barriers and facilitators; and measured changes in quality indicators resulting from electronic SOs.
Methods: Within 8 practices using the Practice Partner® electronic health record (EHR), a customized health maintenance template provided SOs for screening, immunization, and diabetes measures. EHR data extracts were used to calculate the presence and use of these measures on health maintenance templates and performance over 21 months. Qualitative observation/interviews at practice site visits, network meetings, and correspondence enabled synthesis of implementation issues.
Results: Improvements in template presence, use, and performance were found for 14 measures across all practices. Median improvements in screening ranged 6% to 10%; immunizations, 8% to 17%, and diabetes, 0% to 18%. Two practices achieved significant improvement on 14 of the 15 measures. All practices significantly improved on at least 3 of the measures.
Conclusions: A small sample of primary care practices implemented SOs for screening, immunizations and diabetes measures supported by PPRNet researchers. Technical competence and leadership to adapt EHR reminder tools helped staff adopt new roles and overcome barriers.