The randomised, prospective study of 39,462 members of QualChoice, a University Hospitals Health System healthcare plan in Cleveland is the first ever large-scale study of a clinical decision support system conducted in an outpatient health plan environment.

Within the study, the researchers evaluated the cost impact of the support tool. The system compares the most up-to-date, evidence-based clinical guidelines to an individual patient's data in order to identify clinical interventions and issue clinical recommendations - called Care Considerations - spanning a wide range of disease categories.

Underscoring the potential danger of a paper-based medical system with no measure of "checks and balances," the study identified 46 potentially serious medical errors per 1,000 persons. The study demonstrated 19% fewer hospitalisations and an $817 annual reduction in paid claims among those who triggered Care Considerations. There was also a 42% higher compliance rate with the standards of care addressed by the system's recommendations to add new medications to the patient's regimen.

"What's important is that while our government continues to support the adoption of electronic medical records, this study shows the headway that can be made even in advance of the national adoption of health information technology in physician offices." said Jonathan Javitt, MD, MPH, Senior Fellow of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and lead study investigator.

"Once electronic health records become more widespread, systems such as this will sit on top of those records and generate evidence-based recommendations in real time. Physicians need to be able to review patient data in the context of the latest, evidenced-based standards of care - clinical decision support tools like these do just that," he adds.

MEDICA.de; Source: Ketchum