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Practice Makes Perfect but Clinical Decision Support (CDS) Tools Sure Help Too

I was at home last weekend with my little sister when something dawned on her. She exclaimed, “Mom! Volleyball tryouts are in a week and I haven’t even touched a volleyball since last season!” To this my mother replied, “You’ll pick it right back up.”

What if practicing medicine were like picking up a volleyball again, or riding a bike? Practicing medicine is something that you can get better at the more you practice, but it is almost instinct once it is ingrained into your muscle memory. I stopped taking piano lessons 12 years ago, yet I can still remember the last songs I memorized and can sit down and play them all without skipping a note.

What if it were that easy for clinicians to instinctively make a diagnostic call based on things they learned 12 years ago? What if they could always remember every symptom that goes along with every diagnosis in the books? Unfortunately, many clinicians can’t, and misdiagnoses still happen today.

It is common for healthcare providers to rely on machines, medical encyclopedias, gut instincts, or even Google. But what if there were a tool built into their workflows that made it easier for them to search for possible diagnoses and discover best practices when they are making life-changing clinical decisions for their patients? The good news is, there is.

Let’s go back to July 1999 when Isabel Maude was misdiagnosed by her local hospital as having chicken pox and nobody questioned the diagnosis. Because of this, Isabel spent two months in the hospital, including one month in the PICU, after experiencing cardiac arrest and multiple organ failures.

Isabel was eventually correctly diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome and necrotizing fasciitis. Her father, frustrated that the clinicians had not explored other possibilities after the initial diagnosis of chicken pox, wanted to create a program that would assist physicians when diagnosing and show them all the options for specific symptoms as well as best practices for treatment. And the first Clinical Decision Support (CDS) tool was born.

CDS tools have increased in popularity since the Isabel system and, though all hospitals have not engaged a CDS vendor for this service, many have built or are building their own into their workflows. KLAS has just concluded data collection for these vendor tools and will be publishing our findings about which vendor tools are impacting patient outcomes.

Please email me at lauren.mcconkie@klasresearch.com if you would like to know more about which vendors are gaining traction in the space or to request a copy of the report.