Interface, information, interaction: a narrative review of design and functional requirements for clinical decision support

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2018 May 1;25(5):585-592. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocx118.


Objective: Provider acceptance and associated patient outcomes are widely discussed in the evaluation of clinical decision support systems (CDSSs), but critical design criteria for tools have generally been overlooked. The objective of this work is to inform electronic health record alert optimization and clinical practice workflow by identifying, compiling, and reporting design recommendations for CDSS to support the efficient, effective, and timely delivery of high-quality care.

Material and methods: A narrative review was conducted from 2000 to 2016 in PubMed and The Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics Society to identify papers that discussed/recommended design features of CDSSs that are associated with the success of these systems.

Results: Fourteen papers were included as meeting the criteria and were found to have a total of 42 unique recommendations; 11 were classified as interface features, 10 as information features, and 21 as interaction features.

Discussion: Features are defined and described, providing actionable guidance that can be applied to CDSS development and policy. To our knowledge, no reviews have been completed that discuss/recommend design features of CDSS at this scale, and thus we found that this was important for the body of literature. The recommendations identified in this narrative review will help to optimize design, organization, management, presentation, and utilization of information through presentation, content, and function. The designation of 3 categories (interface, information, and interaction) should be further evaluated to determine the critical importance of the categories. Future work will determine how to prioritize them with limited resources for designers and developers in order to maximize the clinical utility of CDSS.

Conclusion: This review will expand the field of knowledge and provide a novel organization structure to identify key recommendations for CDSS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical / standards*
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / standards
  • Software / standards