Hospitals that want to participate in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts quality incentive payment program must shift to computerized physician order entry by 2012.

Massachusetts Blue, Boston, says it has decided to require use of CPOE systems, or electronic prescription systems, because of studies showing that CPOE systems save an average of $2.7 million per hospital and improve the quality of patient care.

The systems can help prevent problems by telling doctors when a medication dosage order might be wrong, when a medication selected might interact with another medication, or when a medication might cause an allergic reaction, Massachusetts Blue says.