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Acad Med. 1993 Jan;68(1):20-5.

Introducing physician order entry at a major academic medical center: I. Impact on organizational culture and behavior.

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  • 1University of Virginia (UVA), School of Medicine, Charlottesville.


In 1988 the University of Virginia Medical Center began implementation of a medical information system based on mandatory physician order entry. The implementation process was much more difficult than expected. The program experienced considerable delays, and cost much more than was originally estimated. Although there were some legitimate questions concerning the user-friendliness of the new technology, these were less significant than the cultural and behavioral problems encountered. The new system challenged basic institutional assumptions; it disturbed traditional patterns of conduct and forced people to modify established practice routines. Real progress toward the integration of the system into the center's operational culture occurred only after a senior management team representing important sectors of the hospital staff and administration began meeting regularly to address the institution-wide issues that had been raised. The author describes the problems that occurred and the organizational behaviors on which they were based, analyzes the lessons learned, documents the progress that has been achieved, and outlines the challenges that remain. The center's experience provides insight into the issue of technology-driven organizational transformation in academic medical centers. Recommendations for successful introduction of similar agents of institutional change are presented.

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