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Is Clinical Decision Support the Missing Link in Prevention?  Comment on “Shared Electronic Vascular Risk Decision Support in Primary Care”

Randall S. Stafford, MD, PhD; Max J. Romano, BA
Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(19):1745-1746. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.478.
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Electronic health records (EHRs) are touted as a key strategy for reducing costs and improving quality in our health care system, which are both urgent goals. The shortcomings of our current system are perhaps most apparent in the provision of preventive services. Contrasted with treatment services focused on addressing symptomatic disease, preventive services aim to forestall or decrease future adverse health outcomes and thus improve quality of life, as well as life span. Prevention can potentially stem the tide of high-cost care by reducing later occurrences of expensive and life-threatening diseases. However, numerous barriers inhibit the implementation of proven preventive interventions. Electronic health records, particularly systems providing clinical decision support (CDS), offer an appealing solution to the status quo whereby busy clinicians all too often lose sight of longitudinal prevention targets while prioritizing immediate treatment goals. The US government has thus allocated billions of dollars in the past 3 years to invest in health information technologies to improve health care quality, decrease morbidity and mortality, and reduce costs.1

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