Computerised order entry systems and pathology services--a synthesis of the evidence

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Computerised Physician Order Entry (CPOE) systems have been promoted in Australia and internationally for their potential to improve the quality of care. The existing research of the effect of CPOE on pathology laboratories has been variable, pointing to the potential to increase efficiency and effectiveness and contribute to enhancing the quality of patient care on the one hand, while leading to significant disruptions in work organisation with a negative impact on departmental relations on the other hand. In this paper we provide an overview of the research evidence about the impact of CPOE on four areas associated with pathology services; a) efficiency of the ordering process, e.g. test turnaround times, b) effectiveness as measured by test ordering volumes and test order appropriateness, c) quality of care, particularly its effects on patient care and d) work organisation patterns, which can be severely disrupted by CPOE. We discuss the possible ramifications of CPOE and offer three broad, but important recommendations for pathology laboratories, based on our own research experience investigating CPOE implementations over three years. Firstly, pathology laboratories need to be active participants in planning the implementation of CPOE. Secondly, the importance of building a firm organisational foundation for the introduction of the new system that includes openness and responsiveness to feedback. And thirdly, the implementation process needs to be underpinned by a strong commitment to a multi-method evaluation at every stage of the process to be able to measure the impact of the system on work practices and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-87
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Biochemist Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Journal Article


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