Primary care physician attitudes concerning follow-up of abnormal test results and ambulatory decision support systems

Int J Med Inform. 2003 Sep;71(2-3):137-49. doi: 10.1016/s1386-5056(03)00133-3.


Objectives: Failures to follow-up abnormal test results are common in ambulatory care. Information systems could assist providers with abnormal test result tracking, yet little is known about primary care providers attitudes toward outpatient decision support systems.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 216 primary care physicians (PCPs) that utilize a single electronic medical record (EMR) without computer-based clinical decision support.

Results: The overall response rate was 65% (140/216). Less than one-third of the respondents were satisfied with their current system to manage abnormal laboratory, radiographs, Pap smear, or mammograms results. Only 15% of providers were satisfied with their system to notify patients of abnormal results. Over 90% of respondents felt automated systems to track abnormal test results would be useful. Seventy-nine percent of our respondents believed that they could comply better with guidelines through electronic clinical reminders.

Conclusions: Most PCPs were not satisfied with their methods for tracking abnormal results. Respondents believed that clinical decision support systems (CDSS) would be useful and could improve their ability to track abnormal results.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Information Systems* / statistics & numerical data
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Computers
  • Boston
  • Continuity of Patient Care
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical* / statistics & numerical data
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / standards*
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians, Family / psychology*
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • User-Computer Interface