Clinical Decision Support in the Medical Home

An Overview

This guide helps define clinical decision support and describes its role in the medical home for enhancing quality and lowering costs. It also outlines how clinical decision support can help primary care providers demonstrate they have met the federal government’s “meaningful use” criteria, which is required for them to receive meaningful use incentives. Clinical decision support (CDS) is the term used to describe information presented at the appropriate time to enable providers and their patients to make the best decision based on the specific circumstances. By comparing the information in a patient’s electronic record with a set of  evidence-based clinical guidelines, an electronic CDS system can, for example, remind a provider to ensure that a patient receives recommended immunizations, track a diabetic patient’s HgA1c levels over time or notify a provider that the medication he or she is about to prescribe may lead to a life-threatening allergic reaction.

The resource presents the types of clinical decision support available, ways to implement it smoothly into the physician practice and keys to effective use. The goal of CDS is to provide the right information, to the right person, in the right format, through the right channel, at the right point in the clinical workflow to improve health and health care decisions and outcomes. If properly implemented, CDS interventions can:

  • Ensure that the best clinical knowledge and recommendations are utilized to
  • Improve health management decisions by clinicians and patients;
  • Organize, optimize and help operationalize the details of a plan of care;
  • Help gather and present data needed to execute this plan;
  • Foster the greater use of evidence-based medicine principles and guidelines;
  • Detect potential safety and quality problems and help prevent them; and
  • Improve appropriate utilization of services, medications and supplies
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