Lessons Learned from a National Initiative Promoting Publicly Available Standards-Based Clinical Decision Support

Appl Clin Inform. 2023 May;14(3):566-574. doi: 10.1055/s-0043-1769911. Epub 2023 Jul 26.


Background: Clinical decision support (CDS), which provides tools to assist clinical decision-making, can improve adherence to evidence-based practices, prevent medical errors, and support high-quality and patient-centered care delivery. Publicly available CDS that uses standards to express clinical logic (i.e., standards-based CDS) has the potential to reduce duplicative efforts of translating the same clinical evidence into CDS across multiple health care institutions. Yet development of such CDS is relatively new and its potential only partially explored.

Objectives: This study aimed to describe lessons learned from a national initiative promoting publicly available, standards-based CDS resources, discuss challenges, and report suggestions for improvement.

Methods: Findings were drawn from an evaluation of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Patient-Centered Outcomes Research CDS Initiative, which aimed to advance evidence into practice through standards-based and publicly available CDS. Methods included literature and program material reviews, key informant interviews, and a web-based survey about a public repository of CDS artifacts and tools for authoring standards-based CDS.

Results: The evaluation identified important lessons for developing and implementing standards-based CDS through publicly available repositories such as CDS Connect. Trust is a critical factor in uptake and can be bolstered through transparent information on underlying evidence, collaboration with experts, and feedback loops between users and developers to support continuous improvement. Additionally, while adoption of standards among electronic health record developers will make it easier to implement standards-based CDS, lower-resourced health systems will need extra support to ensure successful implementation and use. Finally, although we found the resources developed by the Initiative to offer valuable prototypes for the field, health systems desire more information about patient-centered, clinical, and cost-related outcomes to help them justify the investment required to implement standards-based, publicly available CDS.

Conclusion: While the standards and technology to publicly share standards-based CDS have increased, broad dissemination and implementation remain challenging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors

Grants and funding

Funding This work is based on research conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago under contract to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Rockville, MD (Contract No. HHSP233201500023I).