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Electronic alerts to doctors can reduce unnecessary tests

Computerworld, November 8, 2010

Targeting alerts in electronic medical systems can greatly reduce unnecessary tests that yield false positives and help physicians pay closer attention to the messages they get, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by managed care organization Kaiser Permanente, involved a randomized trial of 788,000 patients at eight clinics. It found that an electronic alert sent to physicians the moment they ordered a blood test for elderly patients reduced unnecessary use of tests that often produce false-positives for the elderly. The alert was simple: it told physicians that the test was not reliable for that age group.

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