HealthDecember 20, 2022

How well-designed CDS tools can improve outcomes and support clinicians

Health systems and providers need clinical decision support tools that can enable clinicians to improve decision-making, reduce diagnostic errors and prevent workflow disruptions.

Clinical decision support tools, intelligently deployed at the point of care, improve health outcomes: A 2020 review found that clinical decision support alerts boosted patient outcomes and clinician performance for an array of conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

However, these tools must seamlessly integrate with existing workflows and systems, and they must ease — not exacerbate — clinicians’ workloads. When providers are slow to adopt these tools, it’s often because of usability challenges, manufacturers’ failure to understand what clinicians need, or a lack of EHR integration. This comes as no surprise to any clinician who has spent time fighting a poorly designed interface.

Properly designed CDS tools enable clinicians to identify patterns, make evidence-based diagnoses and safely prescribe the most appropriate therapies.

Ease of use means more effective use

Clinical decision support tools must be built for efficiency. For example, voice-enabled search lets the clinician look up information while performing other tasks. Making CDS tools and clinical information available via a mobile device or integrated into EHRs at the point of care enables them to find answers when and where they need them.

Reducing clinical alert fatigue

Clinicians have enough to cope with; many are already on the verge of burnout after multiple years of COVID-19 response. When CDS tools add to their burden, clinicians are more likely to ignore them. That applies to unnecessary alerts or interfaces that make it difficult to obtain actionable information quickly. Researchers identified one particularly egregious example of a CDS alert instructing a clinician to recommend a patient’s weight loss mistakenly going to an anesthesiologist in the OR. Sometimes, alert mistakes aren’t merely irrelevant — they are a potentially dangerous distraction.

Better CDS design leads to better health outcomes

Poorly designed or integrated CDS systems cause more than frustration: They waste resources, fatigue providers and compromise patient care. For example, at one major hospital, clinicians overrode 98% of medication alerts. Inefficiencies and alert fatigue increase the likelihood of clinicians missing crucial alerts that could mean life or death for a patient.

Decision support tools at the point of care can also reduce prescribing errors, alerting clinicians to potential adverse effects or drug interactions. By integrating a customized formulary into the workflow, hospitals can provide nuanced dosing considerations for a particular patient while improving formulary management.

Among many other functions, CDS tools also:

Clinical support where and when clinicians need it most

Support for CDS adoption is growing, but using this tool to its full potential requires greater interoperability, efficiency and ease of use. User friendliness, timely alerts and EHR integration are essential to ultimately improving health outcomes.

Your hospital can have the most sophisticated CDS tool available. But if it’s time-consuming and difficult to use, it won’t improve outcomes or provide clinicians with the speed to answer they need. Health systems need tools that allow clinicians to meaningfully improve clinical decision-making, reduce diagnostic errors and prevent workflow disruptions.

Frost & Sullivan recently honored Wolters Kluwer for its portfolio of clinical decision support solutions, naming it North America Company of the Year. Explore how our full portfolio of clinical decision support solutions can support your clinical teams.

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