Electronic clinical-decision support reminders can successfully steer physicians away from ordering unnecessary treatments, according to results of a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.
EHR reminders can help docs avoid unnecessary treatments: study
Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, both in Palo Alto, Calif., built automated alerts into the hospital's electronic health-record system to determine whether they would help physicians adhere to recently updated guidelines for ordering red blood-cell transfusions.
The system alerted physicians ordering red blood-cell transfusions whenever a patient did not meet the clinical criteria for receiving the procedure. Researchers determined that the reminders prevented 460 unnecessary transfusions, for a total cost savings of $165,000 over one year.
"We demonstrated that having clinical-decision support baked into the fiber of ordering practices can have a significant, durable impact on the delivery of clinical care," said Dr. David Cornfield, medical director of critical care at Packard Children's Hospital and the study's senior author.
The researchers were surprised at the reminders' effectiveness, said Dr. Eloa Adams, a pediatric critical-care physician at the hospital and another of the study's authors. He said the alerts are an easy and inexpensive way to accelerate change in clinical practice, particularly when guidelines change.
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