Quality of care studies document that physicians often inconsistently diagnose clinical problems and inappropriately prescribe clinical care. A new thematic series published in Implementation Science and edited by R. Brian Haynes (McMaster University) assesses the use of computerized clinical decision support systems (CCDSSs) to address these issues.
CCDSSs match the characteristics of patients to a computerized medical knowledge base, and may consistently and appropriately provide recommendations to clinicians for consideration. The knowledge base for CCDSSs was typically that of expert opinion in the early days of the computer era. Nowadays the knowledge base is more commonly evidence-based, grounded in strong findings from clinical research that show, for example, that treatment A is better than treatment B for a given clinical situation.
Proponents of CCDSSs claim that they help with the accuracy of clinical decisions and so improve the process of care and the outcomes of patients. This thematic series assesses the effects of CCDSSs on the process of care and the outcomes of patients for 6 domains of clinical practice:
1. Primary Prevention
2. Diagnostic Test Ordering
3. Drug Ordering
4. Therapeutic Drug Monitoring
5. Acute care
6. Chronic Disease Management
The findings will be of interest to practitioners and patients, of course, but also to policy makers and managers, given the claims for improving quality of care and costs of computerized clinical decision support.