Can Decision Support Systems Improve Patient Care?


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Clinical decision support is used in a wide range of instances to guide care decisions. Clinical decision support tools include drug-drug interaction checking, automated alerts, templates and order sets. How can these tools be optimized to improve patient care? How should you determine whether the tools are appropriate in your specific practice setting?

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  • Can Decision Support Systems Improve Patient Care?

    1. 1. Can decision support systemsimprove patient care?Dr. Alan Brookstone
    2. 2. 2Clinical Decision Support• HIMSS Definition– Clinical Decision Support is a process for enhancing health-related decisions and actions with pertinent, organizedclinical knowledge and patient information to improvehealth and healthcare delivery– Made up of:• Clinical elements e.g. reference information• Operational elements e.g. alerts or reminders
    3. 3. 3Why Should You Care About CDS?• You won’t miss stuff• You won’t forget stuff• You can easily find stuff• The stuff is relevant to your patients• The Right information to the Right person at theRight time
    4. 4. 4Types of Clinical Decision Support• General clinical knowledge and guidance• Intelligently processed patient data, or• Mixture of both• Formats include:– Data and order entry facilitators– Filtered data displays– Reference information– Alerts, and– Others e.g. Clinical rules
    5. 5. Source: HIMSSA simple and classic CDS example:Drug Interaction Warnings
    6. 6. Types of CDS• Drug-Drug Interactions• Drug-Allergy interactions• Dose Range Checking• Pick lists• Standardized evidencebased order sets e.g. forCDM• Rules (core measures,antibiotic usage, INRmanagement)• Links to knowledgereferences (in the EMR orWeb-based)• Alerts• Templates• Relevant data displays• Point of care referenceinformation• Diagnostic decision supporttools
    7. 7. Additional Perspective on CDS• Active (Driven by an action)– Order sets– Plans of care– Rules and alerts• Passive– Reference information– E.g. Image database for Dermatology (VisualDX)• Must focus on important information withouthindering the daily work of the provider• Customizability
    8. 8. Oder Sets• Allow doctors to enter one order for a series of actionsassociated with common conditions and procedures• Work best for small number of regularly seen conditions• Benefits:– Make care more efficient and easy for the majority of patientswith frequently occurring conditions– Improve standardization of care– Reminders for safety measures that should be followed• Usually no order sets for rare conditions
    9. 9. CPOE (Computerized Provider Order Entry)• Often hand-in-hand with CDS• Examples: Order investigations (labs, DI) or treatment (meds)• Need to be ‘fine tuned’ or can cause problems– Alert fatigue – overwhelm clinicians with so many alerts that the user ‘tunes out’the warnings. If do not need actions, cause user fatigue– Also need training to learn how to interpret and use Alerts properly• Archives of Internal Medicine (Sept 14, 2009)– 280,000 electronic alerts communicated to Massachusetts prescribers in 2006– E-Prescribing alerts in 7.3 percent of the 1.8 million e-prescribing attemptsexamined– Physicians manually overrode 91.1% of 133,051 alerts– 12,000 alerts that were accepted likely prevented 402 adverse drug events, threedeaths, 14 permanent disabilities and 31 cases of temporary disability.– The warnings may also have averted 39 hospital admissions—at an average cost of$9,000 per admission—kept 34 people out of ERs and avoided 267 physician officevisits, for an overall savings of $402,619
    10. 10. 10Evaluation Criteria for CDS• Relevance• Efficiency• Sensitivity• Currency• Usability
    11. 11. 11Relevance• General vs. specialty focused– Alerts, reminders, templates• Is the tool primary care/internal medicine focused?– Chronic disease management• How does it relate to your practice?– EMRs have their strengths and weaknesses
    12. 12. • Does the tool slow you down or improve efficiency?– Speed of use (number of mouse-clicks)• Does the benefit outweigh the cost in terms of thetime it takes to use it?– Financial & time cost vs. clinical benefit12Efficiency
    13. 13. • Does the tool provide the right amount ofinformation to make the decision?– Too much or too little?– Who controls sensitivity settings?• Individual user vs. practice level• Need to ensure the right sensitivity settings– Alert sensitivity too high or low won’t provide the rightinformation at the right time13Sensitivity
    14. 14. • How timely is the information? Is it up-to-date?– Drug data– Clinical reference data– Out of date information loses relevance14Currency
    15. 15. • How does the tool fit into your workflow?– If distracting or poorly designed, can increase risk of error• What is the general satisfaction of users?– Speak with colleagues– Importance of user groups15Usability & Human Factors
    16. 16. Where Can CDS Add Value?• Improved quality– By guiding users to best practices• Increased safety– By verifying an action was the intended one• Reduced cost– By identifying duplicate or unnecessary orders• Improved documentation– Using templates or order sets for specific conditions• Improved communication– Among clinicians regarding patient status– Between clinicians and patientsSource: HIMSS
    17. 17. What Should Decision Support Systems Do?• They need to integrate with your flow• They must be easily understandable• They must be familiar• They must be current• They must not create fatigue
    18. 18. Features of Clinical DSS that Succeed• Provided automatically as part of workflow• Support delivered at time and location of decisionmaking• Provide ‘actionable’ recommendations• Computer basedBMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.38398.500764.8F (published 14 March 2005)