Dashboard technology holds potential as patient clinical decision aid

An interactive decision dashboard format developed by researchers at the University of Rochester (N.Y.) School of Medicine & Dentistry can be adapted to create a clinically realistic prototype patient decision aid, according to an article published this week in BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making. Such findings, the researchers say, represent the potential of interactive decision dashboards for fostering informed decision making. 

"The majority of our study participants were able to use the clinical dashboard prototype to work through a complicated decision problem in a remarkably efficient manner with excellent results in terms of ease-of-use, information provided, clarification of decision-related values, resolution of uncertainty about the treatment choice, and overall usefulness," the researchers said. "In fact, participants' frequent use of the dashboard to eliminate less desirable options to focus attention on more promising alternatives suggests that the dashboard format provided a useful way for them to work through a large amount of information without being overwhelmed by it."

According to the study, the computerized clinical dashboard summarized information about the effectiveness, risks of side effects and drug interactions, out-of-pocket costs, and ease of use of nine analgesic treatment options for knee osteoarthritis.

Twenty-five volunteers in the study interacted with the dashboard for a mean of 4.6 minutes. The dashboard scored well--on a range from one to seven, mechanical ease of use was 6.1, cognitive ease of use was 6.2, emotional difficulty was 2.7, decision-aiding effectiveness was 5.9, clarification of values was 6.5, reduction in decisional uncertainty was 6.1 and provision of decision-related information was 6.0.

The researchers based their clinical dashboard prototype on a patient decision aid which focuses on selection of non-opioid pain medication produced by the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality, because, the group thinks, decisions regarding medication use are among the most common clinical decisions made and often depend on individual patient preferences/circumstances.

Observational data used in the study included time spent using the dashboard before using the drug, the drug chosen, and what options were used in the dashboard.

Academic radiology departments also are starting to rely on dashboard technology for tracking data. A survey published last week in the Journal of the American College of Radiology found that two-thirds of responding academic radiology departments use digital dashboards to keep track of data.

To learn more:
- read BMC's report

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