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CPOE — Computerized Physician Order Entry

(Sometimes, Provider or Prescriber is used instead of Physician.) Electronic entry of a healthcare provider’s instructions for the treatment of patients under his or her care. These orders are communicated over a computer network to the medical staff or to the departments (pharmacy, laboratory or radiology) responsible for fulfilling the order. Proponents of CPOE cite these advantages: faster order completion, reduced errors due to handwriting or transcription, order entry at point-of-care, built-in error-checking for duplicate or incorrect doses or tests, and simplified inventory and posting of charges.

EMR — Electronic Medical Record

A collection of a patient’s medical information in a digital (electronic) form that can be viewed on a computer and easily shared by physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers who are providing care for the patient. A full EMR would allow users to make orders for prescriptions, orders for tests, view laboratory or imaging results, and create clinical notes.


A prescriber’s ability to electronically send an accurate, error-free and understandable prescription directly to a pharmacy from the point-of-care. Proponents cite these benefits: Elimination of illegibility from hand-written prescriptions; reduced risk of medication errors and resulting liability risks; computerized alerts that check the patient’s current medications for drug-drug interactions, drug-allergy interactions, and correct dosing.

Meaningful use

A set of criteria that will allow physicians and hospitals to receive payments for implementing and utilizing electronic medical records (EMRs). The law allows the government to give clinicians payments of up to $44,000 each to install an electronic health record system if the network meets “meaningful use” rules. The initiative could allocate up to $27.3 billion in net Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments that the government expects to pay over 10 years, as part of the economic stimulus package (the American Recovery and Investment Act) signed into law in early 2009.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed a phased-in approach to meaningful use: Under Stage 1, beginning in 2011, CMS proposes 25 objectives for physicians and 23 objectives for hospitals to meet to be deemed meaningful EMR users. Stages 2 and 3 will expand the list in 2013 and 2015, and the added requirements will be proposed through future rulemaking. Hospitals and physicians failing to adopt EMRs and meet the objectives by 2015 will face Medicare penalties.

CMS envisions that by 2015, systems will be in place to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare; support multimedia systems such as digital imaging; coordinate individual patient care from multiple providers; and provide patients access to their electronic personal health records.