Electronic clinical summaries worth providing to docs

Here's yet more proof that electronic clinical decision support can help providers treat patients. Doctors who had electronic access to summaries of clinical information found them very useful, according to a recent study published this month by BMC Pediatrics.

In the study, researchers from Canada and Australia used one-page summaries of up-to-date evidence, which they called "clinical answers" to help 83 pediatricians treating children with respiratory issues keep abreast of the latest research. The study's authors theorized that since physicians increasingly are turning to electronic clinical decision support tools for help in delivering care, the summaries would be important because they enabled the physicians to quickly digest the information without having to read voluminous clinical literature.

The pediatricians' response to the electronic summaries were very favorable, with almost all of them (93 percent) finding them useful or very useful, and 83 percent attesting that the easy layout of the summaries allowed them to quickly find critical information. The doctors also provided feedback on how to tweak the summaries to make them even more effective, such as providing dosage information.

Electronic clinical decision support tools are one of the most useful aspects of EHRs, when actually used by clinicians. Their design and frequency can affect how much physicians will rely on them, though.

"CAs have the potential to be useful for child health clinicians in point-of-care decision-making by providing current high quality evidence in a consistent way to answer common clinical questions," the researchers concluded.

To learn more:
- here's the abstract
- read the provisional study (.pdf)

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