What do independent physicians need to know about clinical decision support?

Simply stated, clinical decision support (CDS) is a process that enables independent physicians to have the information they need when they need it, with the goal of improving healthcare delivery. CDS helps the provider make decisions based on patient data that is appropriately filtered and immediately accessible.

The office of Health Information Technology (IT) further explains that CDS is “a sophisticated health IT component” that typically operates on an electronic health record (EHR) system or other technology platform.

CDS can help the independent physician by “enhancing health-related decisions and actions with pertinent, organized clinical knowledge and patient information.” Health IT has identified CDS interventions that enable the provider and the patient to enjoy these benefits by addressing the CDS Five Rights:

  1. the right information (evidence-based guidance, response to clinical need)
  2. to the right people (entire care team – including the patient)
  3. through the right channels (e.g., EHR, mobile device, patient portal)
  4. in the right formats (e.g., order sets, flow-sheets, dashboards, patient lists)
  5. at the right times (for key decision or action)

Independent physicians who are burdened by paperwork, waiting on faxes or telephone calls from other providers, laboratories, or healthcare facilities, are not able to provide the highest quality healthcare their patients need. When they have immediate access to all of the appropriate data on their patients, including visit notes, medication records, and other providers’ notes, they are able to make more informed decisions about their patients’ healthcare plans.

Health IT cites the specific benefits of CDS as being:

  • Increased quality of care and enhanced health outcomes
  • Avoidance of errors and adverse events
  • Improved efficiency, cost-benefit, and provider and patient satisfaction

CDS enables independent physicians to focus on the patient, to avoid duplication and potential error, and to have all of the right information at the right time, so they can make the right decisions.