How to Implement Clinical Decision Support in Your Practice

Clinical Decision Support is a term that encompasses the use of a variety of tools within the clinical workflow that are designed to provide filtered, patient-specific information at the appropriate time to aid providers in diagnosis and treatment decisions. This is an important piece in improving patient outcomes. Let’s examine some best practices for how to implement CDS in your practice.

What is clinical decision support?

Clinical decision support (CDS) provides intelligently filtered, person-specific information to physicians, clinical staff, patients, and other care team members at the appropriate time to help inform decisions about that patient’s care and improve health outcomes. There are a variety of tools that make up what we know as CDS, including clinical guidelines, diagnostic support, alerts and reminders for patient care, reports and summaries of patient data, documentation templates, order sets specific to the patient’s condition, and reference information relevant to the patient’s health status, among others.

If CDS is going to be effective, the information that is supplied must be relevant to the individuals who can take action on that information to improve the patient’s condition. And, of course, effective CDS provides information that enhances the patient’s care.

How to implement CDS in your practice

When considering clinical decision support for your practice, it’s important to remember that your ultimate goal for this system is for it to improve provider interactions with patients, not add another step to your process that provides no benefit. With this in mind, it’s best to follow a clear plan for implementation, as follows:

  • First, choose a team to manage this project in your practice. It’s a good rule of thumb to have a variety of staff on this team, including doctors, nurses, office administrators, and anyone else who will use the CDS system once it’s in place, or even be affected by its use.
  • Next, clearly define what you want. Success is measured when what actually happened met or exceeded your expectations. Make sure your goals are completely outlined before you even begin speaking to vendors. Remember, your best bet is to buy the system that aligns with your practice’s goals, not to buy the system that came with the best sales pitch or lowest price tag.
  • Work with vendors to find the right system. Make sure you understand how the system works, what impact it may have on your workflow, and if it’s compatible with the way you’re likely to use it.
  • Measure success and work for improvement where it’s needed. Regularly check in with your staff for feedback; keep an eye on how the system has impacted your workflow; look for improvements in patient safety and health outcomes; and even check for patient satisfaction. When you find shortcomings, don’t be discouraged, but rather focus on how they can be fixed.

Benefits of CDS

Clinical decision support has many important benefits, chief among them being a greater ability to avoid errors, an increase in the quality of care and better health outcomes, and an improvement in cost-benefit, efficiency, and satisfaction on the part of both the patient and the provider. The tools that make up clinical decision support are meant to help care team members easily sort through the wealth of information and data available to find only what is most relevant to assist in treatment decisions, and catch potential issues such as medication interactions that could have disastrous consequences. When used effectively, CDS has the ability to help doctors reach their goal of improving patient care while also reducing healthcare costs.

One of the main focuses in healthcare today is improving patient outcomes, as well it should be. Clinical decision support is an important piece in achieving this goal. Are you ready to put CDS to work in your practice? Henry Schein Solutions Hub can help with VisualDX. This award-winning diagnostic clinical decision support system is designed to enhance diagnostic accuracy, aid therapeutic decisions, and improve patient safety.

For more information about VisualDX or to get set up, visit or call 833-433-2482.