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Study: Electronic Alerts Increase Interventions, Don't Improve Care

March 2, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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The use of clinical decision support alerts by hospitals can increase interventions without improving care, reveals the results of a recently published study by Yale researchers.
For the study, published in The Lancet, researchers looked at acute kidney injury (AKI), a serious condition that can lead to dialysis and even death in hospitalized patients. Many hospitals, the researchers say, are using electronic alerts to detect the condition at an early stage. The researchers, led by F. Perry Wilson, M.D. assistant professor of medicine at Yale, examined patients that used alerts and those that didn't. The alert contacted the provider and pharmacist with a page of diagnosis information and clinical guidelines. 
"Our hypothesis was that it would improve outcomes," Wilson said in a statement. "But we found that, overall, there was no effect. Informing the doctors did not change behavior, and it did not change outcomes in terms of dialysis or death."
The researchers, who looked at the alert in different time intervals, said a likely reason for this is that the tool was not educated to providers. They found that not only did it not improve outcomes, but those that received the alerts increased the number of interventions. The interventions didn't necessarily equate to higher quality care.

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