Order Sets

Completed July 2009


This study addresses the use of order sets in the Ontario healthcare system for both diagnosis and treatment. A systematic review of the literature is combined with an analysis of the factors required to successfully implement order sets and to monitor their use and efficacy on an ongoing basis. OHTAC’s specific recommendations are included in the report.

Order sets have been used in medicine for a considerable period of time, initially as written documents developed at a very local level, and more recently as evolving documents that can be shared among institutions used web-based tools. Most recently, they have been incorporated into electronic patient record-keeping systems and even tied to online evidence from the literature.

This analysis reveals that there are benefits to sharing in the development and application of orders sets and to standardizing them as much as possible. It is also important to ensure that users at a local level participate in reviewing and adopting the order sets, to ensure that they are well-suited to the local needs and to facilitate adoption. Electronic implementation brings specific benefits; modifications can be shared widely with colleagues, and compliance can be monitored on an ongoing basis without resorting to retrospective chart reviews. It is important to involve practitioners in the development and implementation of order sets at any level, to maximize user adoption.

Funding Agency

Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care

Project Sponsor

Dr. Tony Easty


Refereed Journals:

Chan, J., Shojania, K., Easty, A., Etchells, E., (2011). Does user-centered design affect the usability, safety and efficiency of CPOE order sets?. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Research Reports:

Chan, A., Easty, A. (2009). Order Sets in Health Care. Retrieved from: Patient Order Sets_Report_OHTAC_UHNHHF_Feb_10_Final


University Health Network

Medical Advisory Secretariat, Ministry of Health and Long-term Care

Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC)

Project Team

Alvita Chan

Julie Chan

Joseph Cafazzo

Kellee Kaulback

Tanya Khan

Kaveh Shojania

Peter Rossos

Timothy Tripp

For more information about this project, contact:

Dr. Tony Easty