Clinical Decision Support

What is Clinical Decision Support (CDS)?

Clinical decision support (CDS) provides clinicians, staff, patients or other individuals with knowledge and person-specific information, intelligently filtered or presented at appropriate times, to enhance health and health care. CDS encompasses a variety of tools to enhance decision-making in the clinical workflow. These tools include computerized alerts and reminders to care providers and patients; clinical guidelines; condition-specific order sets; focused patient data reports and summaries; documentation templates; diagnostic support, and contextually relevant reference information, among other tools.

Clinical Decision Support Promotes Patient Safety

Clinical decision support (CDS) can significantly impact improvements in quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) supports efforts to develop, adopt, implement, and evaluate the use of CDS to improve health care decision making.

We aim to help the health care industry create the technical infrastructure needed to allow health systems to share data with each other electronically to provide the most complete information possible into CDS systems. Complete records allow CDS systems to help with diagnoses and track for negative drug interactions by having a better view of a patient’s whole health.



Why CDS?

CDS has a number of important benefits, including:

  • Increased quality of care and enhanced health outcomes
  • Avoidance of errors and adverse events
  • Improved efficiency, cost-benefit, and provider and patient satisfaction

CDS is a sophisticated health IT component. It requires computable biomedical knowledge, person-specific data, and a reasoning or inferencing mechanism that combines knowledge and data to generate and present helpful information to clinicians as care is being delivered. This information must be filtered, organized and presented in a way that supports the current workflow, allowing the user to make an informed decision quickly and take action. Different types of CDS may be ideal for different processes of care in different settings.

Health information technologies designed to improve clinical decision making are particularly attractive for their ability to address the growing information overload clinicians face, and to provide a platform for integrating evidence-based knowledge into care delivery. The majority of CDS applications operate as components of comprehensive EHR systems, although stand-alone CDS systems are also used.

Optimizing Strategies for Clinical Decision Support

ONC collaborated with the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) to engage key experts and develop a series of strategies and recommendations to optimize CDS in support of improved care. The project’s goals were to identify actionable opportunities to accelerate progress in CDS creation, distribution, and use; inspire action on priority opportunities amongst diverse stakeholder groups; and to drive progress towards a usable, interoperable CDS.

Read “Optimizing Strategies for Clinical Decision Support” [PDF - 1.4 MB]