Using Clinical Decision Support to Reduce Clinical Risk

Published 19/02/2018 by Dr Alex Yeates, Medical Director

Despite concerns within NHS organisations around budget, funding, staff spend and staff training, at the heart of the matter is always the concern that the patient is being treated in the best way for them, in a way that is person-centred and efficient, with the best overall outcome for the person receiving care.

The use of a clinical decision support system can significantly reduce the opportunity for human error during the triage process. Typical human factor variables – such as tiredness, stress, or gaps in knowledge – can influence practitioner behaviour, which could have a negative impact on the way a patient experiences the interaction. If a patient is recommended a pathway that ends up having a poor patient outcome, this could lead to an associated impact on the organisation’s reputation. In most cases, clinical decision support is provided to practitioners via a series of yes/no type questions. This limits the interaction with the patient and forces the consultation to follow a rigid structure. By using a clinical decision support solution based on probability, none of the inherent issues with other systems are present, meaning the outcomes are often better suited to the patient’s situation. This type of solution allows the user to put their clinical training into practice whilst having the ability to freely move between questions and answers. It also supports the user with rationale, differential diagnosis and education advice.

In a world where app-based healthcare, AI and other technology is growing increasingly more reliable and trusted, there is still the issue of decisions not being able to be traced back, which does not help in a case of litigation. A clinical decision support tool could work with clinicians to reduce the amount of error and omissions made during the assessment process, regardless of the grade of practitioner.

Finally, within a culture of eagle-eyed compliance enforcement and increasing litigation risk from those dissatisfied by the way their treatment has been handled, the use of a good clinical decision support system can help protect the organisation from mistakes and be used in case of litigation, as the decision making is based on scientific research and not machine learning or AI. For the NHS and other health organisations experiencing a staffing crisis, upskilling staff with the aid of a clinical decision support solution can reduce clinical risk for the practitioners while improving patient safety and experience.

Click here to read our introduction to Clinical Decision Support