Clinical decision support for high-cost imaging: a randomized clinical trial


There is widespread concern over the health risks and healthcare costs from potentially inappropriate high-cost imaging. As a result, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will soon require high-cost imaging orders to be accompanied by Clinical Decision Support (CDS): software that provides appropriateness information at the time orders are placed via a best practice alert for targeted (i.e. likely inappropriate) imaging orders, although the impacts of CDS in this context are unclear. In this randomized trial of 3,511 healthcare providers at Aurora Health Care, we study the impacts of CDS on the ordering behavior of providers. We find that CDS reduced targeted imaging orders by a statistically significant 6%, however there was no statistically significant change in the total number of high-cost scans or of low-cost scans. The results suggest that the impending CMS mandate requiring healthcare systems to adopt CDS may modestly increase the appropriateness of high-cost imaging.

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