Key Features of Successful Clinical Decision-Support Systems

Clinical Decision-Support Systems

Key Features of Successful Clinical Decision-Support Systems

Clinical decision-support systems have been used by doctors for decades, and they have been studied just as long. In 1998, researchers analyzed the effect on physician performance from decision-support systems. These researchers found that 66% of the physicians had improved performance as a result of implementing these systems, improving drug dosing, preventative care, and more. 

Based on these findings, researchers in 2005 sought to follow-up and identify the features of these systems that led to either their successes or failures. In an evaluation of seventy studies, the researchers found four independent features that could predict an improvement on clinical practices: 

  • Decision-support provided automatically as part of workflow
  • Decision-support delivered at the time and location of decision-making
  • Actional recommendations provided
  • Computer-based

Studies of clinical decision-support tools have shown success in reducing medical errors and improving patient outcomes, but none had determined the features that support this success. As these systems become even more widely accepted, they must ensure to include these features.

Evidence-based medicine has the potential to improve the treatment of patients and reduce the nearly 100,000 US deaths from medical errors per year. Until there is an even higher adoption of intuitive systems that can provide doctors with the most recent guidelines for treatment, many of these errors will continue. 

  • Hunt, D., Haynes, R., Hanna, S. and Smith, K. (1998). Effects of Computer-Based Clinical Decision Support Systems on Physician Performance and Patient Outcomes. JAMA, 280(15), p.1339.
  • Kawamoto, K., Houlihan, C., Balas, E. and Lobach, D. (2005). Improving clinical practice using clinical decision support systems: a systematic review of trials to identify features critical to success. BMJ, 330(7494), p.765.
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