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Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2008 Sep;34(9):499-508.

Implementing online medication reconciliation at a large academic medical center.

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  • 1Medicine Service, Bellevue Hospital, New York City, NY, USA.



Most examples of successful medication reconciliation (MR) programs have reported on paper-based systems, the most common of which is a standardized MR form that often serves as a medication order form. An interdisciplinary process was undertaken by Bellevue Hospital, New York City, to develop a full, online MR program. PHASE 1. MOVING BEYOND PAPER: In 2005 Bellevue piloted a paper-based MR process. However, this effort was unsuccessful, so an online MR application that would be more accessible and easier to audit was initiated. The longitudinal outpatient medication list--the definitive, electronic medication list for patients in our system--formed the basis of the MR project. The list included every prescription written in the electronic health record (EHR). Historical medication could also be entered into the list, representing a useful function in the outpatient setting for patients who transfer their care to Bellevue and are already on chronic medications. In a two-month pilot in Summer 2006, compliance was achieved for only 20% of patients. PHASE 2.


In April 2007, MR was made a mandatory part of the admission process; a blocking function in the EHR prevented medication orders if the admission MR had not been completed. Compliance rates subsequently increased to 90% throughout the hospital. To "close the loop" in the reconciliation process, in November 2007, a discharge reconciliation was made a mandatory part of the discharge process, resulting in 95% compliance.


Successful implementation of admission and discharge MR suggested several lessons, including (1) mandatory functionality leads to adaptation and integration of MR into housestaff work flows and (2) an electronic MR is preferable to a paper-based process in organizations with an EHR and computerized physician order entry.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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