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Computerized Hospital Discharge Reassures Patients

Patients, their physicians feel quality of discharge is higher with electronic process

THURSDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- Patients and their outpatient physicians are more satisfied with hospital discharge when the process involves computerized physician order entry rather than handwritten notes, according to a study published online July 20 in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

James F. Graumlich, M.D., of the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria, and colleagues conducted a study of 631 inpatients, who were at high risk of readmission upon discharge, under the care of 70 internal medicine hospital physicians who were randomized to use either handwritten discharge documentation or discharge software.

The researchers found that the patients in the computerized discharge documentation group gave higher scores for preparedness compared to those in the control group, but the groups gave similar scores for satisfaction with medication information. Outpatient physicians also gave higher scores for the quality of computerized discharge compared with handwritten notes. The hospital doctors reported that they had to make more of an effort to use to the discharge software compared with handwriting discharge notes, the investigators note.

"While our computerized physician order entry-based discharge software gave patients a slightly better experience as they were being discharged, we are aware that pharmacists and nurses still play a key role in the discharge process," Graumlich said in a statement. "Hospitalists need to recognize that patients benefit when these systems are used."

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