Background: Despite increasing emphasis on the role of clinical decision-support systems (CDSSs) for improving care and reducing costs, evidence to support widespread use is lacking.
Purpose: To evaluate the effect of CDSSs on clinical outcomes, health care processes, workload and efficiency, patient satisfaction, cost, and provider use and implementation.
Data sources: MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Web of Science through January 2011.
Study selection: Investigators independently screened reports to identify randomized trials published in English of electronic CDSSs that were implemented in clinical settings; used by providers to aid decision making at the point of care; and reported clinical, health care process, workload, relationship-centered, economic, or provider use outcomes.
Data extraction: Investigators extracted data about study design, participant characteristics, interventions, outcomes, and quality.
Data synthesis: 148 randomized, controlled trials were included. A total of 128 (86%) assessed health care process measures, 29 (20%) assessed clinical outcomes, and 22 (15%) measured costs. Both commercially and locally developed CDSSs improved health care process measures related to performing preventive services (n= 25; odds ratio [OR], 1.42 [95% CI, 1.27 to 1.58]), ordering clinical studies (n= 20; OR, 1.72 [CI, 1.47 to 2.00]), and prescribing therapies (n= 46; OR, 1.57 [CI, 1.35 to 1.82]). Few studies measured potential unintended consequences or adverse effects.
Limitations: Studies were heterogeneous in interventions, populations, settings, and outcomes. Publication bias and selective reporting cannot be excluded.
Conclusion: Both commercially and locally developed CDSSs are effective at improving health care process measures across diverse settings, but evidence for clinical, economic, workload, and efficiency outcomes remains sparse. This review expands knowledge in the field by demonstrating the benefits of CDSSs outside of experienced academic centers.
Primary funding source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.