Clinical Decision SupportPatient Care

Innovations in Health Care: The Role of Clinical Decision Support Systems in Redefining Patient Care

By Ellard Thomas, Director, Patient Access, Providence

In today’s dynamic health care environment, particularly in the post-pandemic era, clinicians are continuously striving for excellence in patient care, whether it’s delivered virtually or on premise. However, amidst organizational and economic hurdles, they face mounting pressure due to the escalating demands of an expanding patient population. This, coupled with the challenges of maintaining a healthy work-life balance and sustaining peak performance, often leads to burnout, depersonalization, and stress among dedicated health care professionals. This situation is neither sustainable nor conducive to providing optimal care.

To address these growing challenges and support the well-being of health care providers, forward-thinking, technology-focused organizations such as Providence’s Virtual Care and Digital Health, have partnered with health care professionals to develop innovative solutions, setting the bar for care excellence. Among these solutions are clinical decision support systems (CDSS) which are designed to streamline and enhance the delivery of care virtually and in person.

Despite the challenges and initial reluctance, integrating CDSS into clinical workflows holds the promise of optimizing patient outcomes and improving overall health care quality.

Developed to assist providers in delivering the best care for their patients, a CDSS is an electronic health information tool that provides clinicians with recommendations and treatment pathways. Access to this tool enables providers to make informed decisions about patient care without needing to refer the patient to another provider, which can help minimize patient dissatisfaction. Unlike traditional care diagnostic methods, which often require clinicians to specialize in a particular ailment or immediately refer patients at the onset of an illness, CDSS empowers providers to assess real-time options and choose the most appropriate course of action.

Recognizing the critical need and immense benefits of CDSS in revolutionizing health care delivery across the entire continuum of care, Dr. Eve Cunningham, a visionary leader and esteemed clinician, has spearheaded a groundbreaking initiative. With her innovative approach, she not only envisioned but also implemented a cutting-edge CDSS platform designed by clinicians to support providers in their clinical decision-making processes. “This cutting-edge CDSS platform offers specialist-level clinical expertise and just-in-time support to front-line clinicians while they are in the context of a virtual or in-person visit,” says Dr. Cunningham, “[which] translates to happier providers and improved patient access.”

By leveraging this cutting-edge CDSS platform, Dr. Cunningham seeks to optimize patient care outcomes, enhance efficiency and streamline workflows through leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), thus ushering in a new age of transformative health care delivery.

While a CDSS holds immense potential to enhance the efficiency of care delivery, particularly in resource-constrained clinical environments, its widespread adoption has historically been hindered by various challenges. These obstacles include excessive documentation burden on providers, clinician reluctance stemming from a lack of confidence in the system and negative patient perceptions.

Many clinicians, for example, have found themselves overwhelmed by the sheer volume of alerts generated by certain CDSS platforms, which can impede their ability to focus on patient care. Some clinicians also prefer relying on their own judgment and experience rather than incorporating CDSS recommendations into their practice. Additionally, there is a notable preference among some patients for providers who employ traditional diagnostic methods, viewing them as more trustworthy and competent compared to those who rely on clinical decision support tools. Regrettably, this small subset of individuals may overlook the advantages offered by CDSS, such as mitigating clinician burnout and errors and promoting improved health outcomes for patients.

Yet, as the world of health care continues to evolve, it becomes increasingly important for both providers and patients to embrace practices and technologies that facilitate the most effective and efficient delivery of care. Despite the challenges and initial reluctance, integrating CDSS into clinical workflows holds the promise of optimizing patient outcomes and improving overall health care quality. Therefore, fostering greater acceptance and utilization of these tools is essential for advancing health care practices and ensuring the delivery of high-quality care to all patients, especially in an era where there’s a strong drive to reduce costs, minimize risks to patients, prioritize clinician well-being and exceed the satisfaction of both clinicians and patients.  

Every clinician aims to deliver exceptional care to their patients while also seeking the most efficient methods. As health care leaders navigate the complexities of traditional practices, they pave the way for technological advancements. Organizations offering innovative solutions, such as a CDSS, are at the forefront of redefining care delivery by clinicians. Through these advancements, trust and engagement from patients can be enhanced, marking a significant step forward in improving health care outcomes and experiences for all.


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