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Do Decision Support Tools Make Docs Look Dumb?

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, April 19, 2011

Think of the alternatives. Physicians who need to double-check information about medication interactions could sneak out of the treatment room to look the information up without the patient knowing—all the while getting further and further behind on appointments. Or they could always just take a stab in the dark.

I could be wrong, but I can't imagine any physician thinks either of those options is a great idea. And I think we should give physicians a little more credit than that.

Still, if there are some docs out there who really are afraid of looking dumb—who are simply incapable of explaining the benefits of decision support to patients and showing them how it can improve the quality of their care—there is hope on the horizon in the form of smarter and smaller devices that will allow access to EMRs embedded with evidence-based best practices.

"Patients won't even be able to tell whether their doctor is using a computer in their diagnostic decision or not," Wolf says. "In that way, it will become more like the auto-pilot used on commercial planes. When we fly, we do not see what is happening in the cockpit, so we don't mind that computers are actually doing most of the flying."

Eventually, clinicians won't have a choice about using evidence-based medicine and decision support in the exam room. Payers, in particular, will demand it.

"It's too late now to say 'if we should have technology.' Evidence-based medicine will not work without technology driving it. It's impossible," says G. Daniel Martich, MD, CMIO at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

"Doctors cannot rely on pulling out the New England Journal of Medicine and reading it and somehow applying that to their patient population. It's not going to work [without full-blown adoption]."

And if some physicians and their egos still can't figure out a way to adapt and adopt? Well, I hope they enjoy their retirement. 

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1 comments on "Do Decision Support Tools Make Docs Look Dumb?"


ken (4/19/2011 at 12:59 PM)
Right on. Doctors should use everything available to them to make the right decision and delivery QUALITY treatment. I believe checklists have an important role to play and some docs hate those too. Docs are people dealing with complex situations...why would they allow their egos to get in the way of providing patients with the best care. Read the CheckList Manifesto.