Effect of Clinical Decision Support on Appropriateness of Advanced Imaging Use Among Physicians-in-Training

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2019 Apr;212(4):859-866. doi: 10.2214/AJR.18.19931. Epub 2019 Feb 19.


Objective: Clinical decision support (CDS) tools have been shown to reduce inappropriate imaging orders. We hypothesized that CDS may be especially effective for house staff physicians who are prone to overuse of resources.

Materials and methods: Our hospital implemented CDS for CT and MRI orders in the emergency department with scores based on the American College of Radiology's Appropriateness Criteria (range, 1-9; higher scores represent more-appropriate orders). Data on CT and MRI orders from April 2013 through June 2016 were categorized as pre-CDS or baseline, post-CDS period 1 (i.e., intervention with active feedback for scores of ≤ 4), and post-CDS period 2 (i.e., intervention with active feedback for scores of ≤ 6). Segmented regression analysis with interrupted time series data estimated changes in scores stratified by house staff and non-house staff. Generalized linear models further estimated the modifying effect of the house staff variable.

Results: Mean scores were 6.2, 6.2, and 6.7 in the pre-CDS, post-CDS 1, and post-CDS 2 periods, respectively (p < 0.05). In the segmented regression analysis, mean scores significantly (p < 0.05) increased when comparing pre-CDS versus post-CDS 2 periods for both house staff (baseline increase, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.17-0.64) and non-house staff (baseline increase, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.34-0.81), showing no differences in effect between the cohorts. The generalized linear model showed significantly higher scores, particularly in the post-CDS 2 period compared with the pre-CDS period (0.44 increase in scores; p < 0.05). The house staff variable did not significantly change estimates in the post-CDS 2 period.

Conclusion: Implementation of active CDS increased overall scores of CT and MRI orders. However, there was no significant difference in effect on scores between house staff and non-house staff.

Keywords: appropriateness; clinical decision support; house staff; overutilization; radiology.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • Formative Feedback
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medical Order Entry Systems
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / statistics & numerical data*