On the surface it sounds like a no-brainer consolidate the most relevant and up-to-date information in order to evaluate clinical decisions in real time.

The amount of information available to physicians is increasing at an exponential rate, and it's almost impossible for individual doctors to keep up to date on the cutting edge. In addition, in the field of radiology, it's argued that having this additional information available and easily accessible to referring physicians will result in fewer unnecessary and inappropriate tests, and fewer physician errors.

So why has the adoption of these systems been so slow in the healthcare sector

According to a panel of physicians and industry representatives at SIIM 2014, there is the harsh reality that quality of care and patient concerns occasionally take a back seat to financial factors. In a fee-for-service model, facilities can sometimes be reluctant to implement systems that may reduce revenues. And since the ROI on decision support (DS) systems might not be evident at first glance, the drive to utilize this technology has been subdued.

Secondly, the user experience has been lacking in the past. In order to assimilate all available information, the DS system has to work in concert with the facility's EMR system. In the past, this integration was clunky and hard to work with. For a physician who has only a short time with each patient, this and other workflow issues meant that DS systems were a non-starter.

And finally, physicians can be quite conservative. Without a clear benefit, it is hard to get them to change how they do things, especially if it's a system that proposes to tell them how to treat their patients.

However, the winds are changing.

To begin with, more and more facilities are moving to a capitation payment model. And those that are both payors and providers see a reduction of costs as a clear benefit. In addition, vendors have been hard at work to make sure that these systems are much easier to use; EMR integration has improved markedly, and workflow disruptions have been reduced. And finally, Meaningful Use and SGR guidelines have made the use of DS systems required. Given these factors, the use and adoption of DS systems seems poised to accelerate in the near future.

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