Objectives: To determine whether clinical decision support (CDS) is associated with improved quality indicators and whether disabling CDS negatively affects these.
Study design/methods: Using the 2006-2009 National Ambulatory and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys, we performed logistic regression to analyze adult primary care visits for the association between the use of CDS (problem lists, preventive care reminders, lab results, lab range notifications, and drug-drug interaction warnings) and quality measures (blood pressure control, cancer screening, health education, influenza vaccination, and visits related to adverse drug events).
Results: There were an estimated 900 million outpatient primary care visits to clinics with EHRs from 2006-2009; 97% involved CDS, 77% were missing at least 1 CDS, and 15% had at least 1 CDS disabled. The presence of CDS was associated with improved blood pressure control (86% vs 82%; OR 1.3; 95% CI, 1.1-1.5) and more visits not related to adverse drug events (99.9% vs 99.8%; OR 3.0; 95% CI, 1.3-7.3); these associations were also present when comparing practices with CDS against practices that had disabled CDS. Electronic problem lists were associated with increased odds of having a visit with controlled blood pressure (86% vs 80%; OR 1.4; 95% CI, 1.3-1.6). Lab result notification was associated with increased odds of ordering cancer screening (15% vs 10%; OR 1.5; 95% CI, 1.03-2.2).
Conclusions: The use of CDS was associated with improvement in some quality indicators. Not having at least 1 CDS was common; disabling CDS was infrequent. This suggests that meaningful use standards may improve national quality indicators and health outcomes, once fully implemented.