Clinical support tool improves communication between specialists and primary care doctors

March 27, 2009

A new computer decision-support tool for physicians can result in more recommendations from specialists being implemented during a patient's hospitalization, according to a study by its developers.

A new computer decision-support tool for physicians can result in more recommendations from specialists being implemented during a patient’s hospitalization, according to a study by its developers.

The tool, developed at Indiana University’s Regenstreif Institute, lets referring providers review and implement electronic recommendations from consultants.

The study, funded by the National Institute on Aging and published in the March/April issue of Journalof the American Medical Informatics Association, found that consultant recommendations were implemented 30 percent more often when the tool was used.

The tool can, among other things, let a primary care physician know a specialist’s recommendations, let that specialist know if those recommendations have been implemented by the patient’s primary care physician, and alert a specialist when a drug he was thinking of prescribing conflicts with another of the patient’s prescriptions.

According to authors of the study, use of the tool could save money by decreasing delays in care, improving patient safety, and prioritizing specialty treatment. Further research could determine the tool’s affect on patient outcomes, duration of hospitalization, and cost of care.