Healthcare News & Insights

Patients don’t like when doctors use clinical decision support tools, study says

One of the of the biggest benefits of EHRs and other health IT systems is that they give doctors access to new tools that help analyze data and guide doctors to make better decisions. However, a new study shows that many patients aren’t comfortable with doctors’ use of clinical decision support tools. 

The use of health IT tools that analyze patients’ records and clinical research to recommend diagnoses and treatments leads to lower patient satisfaction and could make patients less likely to follow their doctors’ recommendations, according to a recent study from researchers at the University of Missouri.

The good news: Patients trust their doctors to make better decisions than what’s recommended by technology. However, that means that when technology is used, many patients become uncomfortable, even though though the final decision is coming from the practitioner.

Those findings come from a survey of 434 participants who were asked to read three different scenarios involving patients with an ankle injury — in once scenario, the doctor made an unaided diagnosis, in the second, the physician consulted with another professional, and in the third, the doctor used a computer-based diagnostic aid.

Participants who read the third scenario rated the hypothetical doctor more negatively than those in the other groups.

Doctors not happy with clinical decision support tools, either

What can doctors do? The study’s authors say medical professionals need to educate patients about clinical decision support tools and explain how those health IT systems fit into the decision-making process. In other words, patients must understand that the computer isn’t making a decision, but rather providing an additional tool that the doctor can use along with other knowledge and experience.

And some improvement in clinical decision support tools may be needed, too. Doctors also aren’t completely happy with how those tools work, according to a recent report from KLAS.

Many challenges still exist with those tools, particularly when it comes to providing alerts about drug interactions.

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