Today I learned about a new program that’s being used in healthcare organizations. It gives me great hope that something significant is on the horizon. It’s called Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) and the many healthcare professionals that read this site probably know about it already — but I’ll share what I learned for the benefit of everyone else.

CPOE is a computer application that allows physicians to enter orders for patient prescriptions and tests, rather than on paper (usually in illegible writing). This alone would amount to nothing more than simple workflow automation, but CPOE goes well beyond replacing paper orders with electronic ones. It has many features that a seasoned Lean or Six Sigma practitioner would be pleased to hear about.

By comparing orders against known standards for prescription doses, drug interactions, patient allergies and treatment procedures, it provides the ability to flag problems much more quickly and efficiently allowing a new level of security screening for patient health.

Benefits achieved from CPOE include:


  • Less paper, filing and storage
  • Reduction of medication errors, the largest single cause of medical errors in hospitals
  • Reduction of costs through avoided adverse events
  • Recommended best practices in patient health care
  • Shorter hospital lengths of stay


So what’s the bad news, you ask? Very few hospitals have implemented CPOE. According to Will Weider, CIO of Affinity Health Systems, only .08% of American community hospitals have implemented CPOE.

I look forward to learning more about CPOE. If any iSixSigma readers have had the opportunity to work on or with a CPOE system, please post your comments and thoughts. Readers can learn more about CPOE at

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