A fresh take on clinical decision support


Doctors want more clinical decision support, to give patients the best treatment. However, developing such IT-systems is expensive, and they can seldom be used across doctors’ offices or hospitals. Now, e-health researchers might have found a solution, using artificial intelligence.

Some of the people on the health data team, from left: Joseph Hurley, Kassaye Yigzaw, Luis Marco-Ruiz, Meskerem Asfaw, Torje D. Henriksen and Johan Gustav Bellika. Photo: Lene Lundberg
Some of the people on the health data team, from left: Joseph Hurley, Kassaye Yigzaw, Luis Marco-Ruiz, Meskerem Asfaw, Torje D. Henriksen and Johan Gustav Bellika. Photo: Lene Lundberg

Let us say you feel ill, and you go to a doctor’s office. She sets out to ask many questions and examines you, writes down your symptoms and starts to put together knowledge and previous experience with symptoms and observations. 

Now, if the doctor could also look up symptoms and other relevant information in different health systems, chances are she could get the diagnosis and treatment for you right, faster. 

Only for local use

Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSS) enable health professionals to access the latest scientific evidence at the time and place when such evidence is needed for choosing the best option in the treatment of a patient. However, the implementation costs of CDSS is extremely high and, therefore, it is necessary to share those systems in order to make their adoption affordable at a national scale.

As of today, most CDSS cannot be accessed across doctors’ offices or hospitals. The different types of Electronic Health Records (EHR) do not “speak” with each other. The doctor does not get insight into valuable information about diagnosis, treatment or medication that could help her help you in the best possible way.

– It is a problem that doctors do not have access to more clinical decision support. It would mean much for the development of best practice and adherence to clinical guidelines, says Luis Marco-Ruiz, post-doc at the Norwegian Centre for E-health Research.

Improving patient care

Clinicians want insight into other clinicians’ practice, to improve their own. Researchers say they are about to solve the issue:

– It is already possible to make such systems speak with each other, when we use standardized solutions and archetype based systems. But we must also make the systems searchable for all clinicians, regardless of the institution or region they work in, says Marco-Ruiz.

Luis Marco-Ruiz. Photo: Jarl-Stian Olsen
Luis Marco-Ruiz. Photo: Jarl-Stian Olsen

After talking to many doctors, he believes this would help them access key knowledge that is necessary for delivering the best clinical practice and patient care.  

– Every time a doctor meets a patient, she can use a wide range of clinical information from reliable and evidence-based data registered over many years, he says.      

Ranked top paper

Together with other researchers, Luis Marco-Ruiz and his colleague Johan Gustav Bellika wrote a research article on how CDSS can be accessed and used by all clinicians. 

The name of the article was Publication, discovery and interoperability of Clinical Decision Support Systems: A Linked Data approach. 

Last fall, IMIA - the International Medical Informatics Association, ranked the article as one of the worlds’ top papers within the field of computerized clinical decision support.

To read the scientific article, click here.