Improve Quality of Care With Clinical Decision Support Software

Patient talking to a counselor

Have you ever made a pros and cons list? Have you ever read consumer reviews before making a big purchase? Has your smartphone ever taken you from point A to point B? If so, then you're already familiar with decision support. At its most basic, “decision support” is a system that helps people in the decision-making process. 

In behavioral health care, decision support is crucial for interpreting, diagnosing, and treating patients. And as digital transformation continues to evolve, clinical decision support software plays an important role in delivering quality care. 

Let’s take a closer look at how using a comprehensive EHR can improve patient safety, boost engagement, and maximize efficiency by enhancing the clinical decision-making process.

Clinical Decision Support Software

Computerized clinical decision support systems that were first introduced as standalone systems in the 1980s are now more commonly part of the electronic health record (EHR) system. Today, we use clinical decision support to assist behavioral health and health professionals in making patient-specific care decisions. The clinical decision support system (CDSS) accomplishes this by matching the characteristics of each patient to a computerized clinical database and then presenting specific recommendations to the clinician.

The development of CDSS supports human decision-making by revealing data and observations that would otherwise be inaccessible or unintelligible to humans. The most sophisticated clinical decision support systems assist clinicians by providing them with information or suggestions at the point of care.

Some of the functions performed by CDSS that improve quality of care are diagnostic support, disease management, prescription management, and risk management. Digital medication records, order sets, patient data reports, and clinical workflow templates are examples of the clinical documentation (work product) a CDSS can help provide.

Using Clinical Decision Support Software to Drive Quality Care

When considering the risks and benefits of new technology, it helps to consider its contribution to quality health care. Quality of care, in and of itself, is a predictor of better clinical outcomes. The measures of quality care include patient safety, patient engagement, and operational and clinical efficiency. 

Patient Safety

It goes without saying that patient safety is a critical component of quality care. Furthermore, it's a top priority for value-based care initiatives, including the value-based payment system. In fact, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, high-reliability organizations are those that cultivate resilience by putting patient safety over all other performance pressures. Despite this fact, U.S. hospitals report 44,000 to 98,000 deaths per year that are the result of errors. 

Fortunately, throughout the patient safety continuum, clinical decision support can provide reminders, recommendations, and alerts to health care professionals. For example, ContinuumCloud's clinical decision support is built into the EHR system and can help behavioral health professionals:

  • Identify potential risk factors, behaviors, or triggers that may predict relapse
  • Track drug interactions, side effects, and adverse reactions
  • Flag medication errors
  • Check for medical contraindications like allergies and sensitivities
  • Create automated reminders for appointments, follow-up, lab work, and referrals
  • Calculate accurate dosages and view at-a-glance dosing guidelines
  • Keep accurate medication records
  • Send notifications when the FDA issues a recall or changes prescribing notes for drugs or medical devices
  • Draft guidance for policy and procedures surrounding training and safety
  • Choose common order sets, guidance documents, and clinical documentation
  • Create clinical guidelines that follow a logical “if-then” flowchart or algorithm

Patient Engagement Through Shared Decision-Making

Clinical decision support software: woman sitting on a couch and using her phone

A patient's commitment to their treatment plan is crucial to achieving better outcomes. Clinical decision support systems provide a number of ways to create buy-in and strengthen patient engagement.

An emerging trend in behavioral and physical health care is shared decision-making, which aims to facilitate informed, meaningful, and collaborative discussions between patients and providers.

Promoting shared decision-making is another way to encourage active participation. By engaging patients in their recovery and treatment processes through shared decision-making, patients can achieve better outcomes. 

Here are a few ContinuumCloud clinical decision support tools designed to increase engagement through shared decision-making:

  • Automated appointment reminders and self-scheduling tools
  • Patient portal with access to their private health information
  • Secure video conferencing for telehealth and teletherapy
  • Patient education resources
  • Real-time surveys 
  • Questionnaires created for a high level of interaction
  • Micro-interactions that take less than a minute to complete

Operational and Clinical Efficiency

To meet economic challenges and deliver quality care, behavioral health and human services must identify savings opportunities and understand operational costs. Benchmarking data can be used to support improved workflows and processes with clinical decision support software.

With ContinuumCloud’s EHR system, you can identify and manage workflows that make sense for your practice, plus produce persuasive support documents with the help of advanced reporting features.

Here are a few examples of how ContinuumCloud supports operational efficiency and helps organizations meet financial objectives:

  • Obtain data from patients, institutions, and the government using health information technology
  • Analyze massive data sets for the purposes of creating more comprehensive benchmarking tools
  • Use business intelligence dashboarding to support visualization and gain a better understanding of complex data
  • Create pixel-perfect reports for stakeholder support and funding
  • Use a revenue cycle management (RCM)-compatible dashboard to gain more insight and draft compelling reports
  • Provide access to a robust patient engagement platform, which includes peer support groups, a patient education library, and HIPAA-compliant communication tools

An EHR That Supports Clinical Decision-Making

Clinical and laboratory data are routinely entered into health care databases. Electronic health records are one of the most common clinical databases in the industry today. 

The amount of patient information available in an electronic database is greater than that available in a manual filing system. There are other benefits too:

  • The use of electronic health records makes data entry and editing easier
  • You can automatically update and recalculate data in an EHR
  • Querying, searching, filtering, and retrieving data is easier with data in an EHR
  • Information can be formatted, arranged, and presented in a customizable manner using electronic databases, including in an EHR
  • Information can be easily shared between electronic databases and other software like patient engagement or RCM software
  • Data validation occurs before entering electronic databases, thereby reducing errors created during data entry
  • Unauthorized access to a database is prohibited 
  • Improved backup and recovery services minimize data loss

In terms of clinical decision support tools, EHRs make the best foundations because they contain:

  • General medical data such as medical information and regulatory guidelines
  • Patient care data, including individual patient information
  • Clinical management data like behavioral health summaries and prescribing information

Not only are EHRs repositories of information that can be searched, sorted, reviewed, and compared, but there are also financial incentives in the U.S. to reward organizations that invest in electronic health records and their meaningful use. Despite the benefits, behavioral health practices have been slower to adopt health technology like EHR with clinical decision support. 

Choose a vendor that understands behavioral health, your patients' needs, and your clinicians' concerns, such as alert fatigue. ContinuumCloud speeds EHR adoption and encourages advanced uses like decision support.

Choose Clinical Decision Support Software Designed for Behavioral Health 

Clinical decision support software: patient having a video call with a counselor

The use of clinical decision support software programs can help behavioral health care providers improve the quality of care and improve patient outcomes. The tools are easy to access and offer evidence-based clinical guidelines. As well, they support behavioral health care leaders' attempts to improve access to quality care while lowering costs. 

ContinuumCloud’s EHR comes fully equipped with clinical decision support systems. These EHR-embedded tools provide medication dosing support, ordering assistance, alerts and reminders at the point of care, relevant information display, expert systems, and workflow support by using functions such as compiling, reporting, alerting, and visualization. Contact us today to learn more.

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