Digital Order Sets Improve Patient Care

Dr. Gordon Porter
Dr. Gordon Porter, Chief of Staff at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, believes that transitioning to digital and customizable order sets will support patient-centred care and promote a culture of quality and safety.

When you are admitted to hospital, the next steps in your health care journey are identified and recorded. This system, called order sets, ensures everyone involved in your care team is informed and follows the same instructions. Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is introducing a new way to implement order sets that will improve patient care.

Following a patient diagnosis, order sets are approved and assigned by a physician. They are used by clinicians and guide standard procedures and patient care plans from admission to discharge and include steps for care such as the types of medical tests and diagnostics required, or medications to be prescribed. Order sets are research based and standardized to support high quality, safe health care.

Traditionally, order sets are printed out on paper and hand-signed by the primary physician. To improve the process, our Hospital is saying farewell to paper and adopting digital order sets. This improves patient care and is part of the Hospital’s commitment to adopt standardized processes, tools, templates and resources that support quality care.

“Transitioning to digital and customizable order sets will support patient-centred care and promote a culture of quality and safety,” said Dr. Gordon Porter, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre Chief of Staff. “Digital order sets find the right balance between efficiency and accessibility. Physicians having increased and convenient access to standardized, evidence based will help improve patient safety.”

The adoption and implementation of the digital, quality based procedure order sets was sponsored by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Think Research will oversee the provincial effort to digitalize the current paper based QBP Order Set inventory that is specific to our Hospital.

Using a standardized, digital approach to order sets is a significant process improvement that supports the quality improvement initiatives and enhances outcomes for patients. “Standardizing practice through common order sets reduces clinical variability and allows for quality patient care ordered in a consistent and reliable manner,” said Porter. “Access to evidence-based guidelines at the bedside supports clinical decision making and reduces the potential duplication of medical orders. Going digital also enables real-time data analytics that can help inform and guide continuous quality improvement in key areas of cost, readmissions, safety and length of stay.”