Boston Globe Examines Physicians’ Reluctance To Use Decision Support Tools
The Boston Globe on Sunday examined physicians' reluctance to integrate computer-aided decision support tools into the diagnostic process, despite claims that the tools can reduce medical errors and improve the accuracy of diagnoses. According to advocates of the tools, widespread use could reduce health care costs and eliminate many unnecessary tests and treatments, but many physicians still prefer to use such applications only in isolated cases, rather than in routine practice, the Globe reports. The Globe highlights the Problem Knowledge Coupler, a decision support application. The program asks physicians to answer a series of questions about a patient's condition and provides a list of potential diagnoses and recommended tests. After physicians complete the recommended tests, they would discuss the results with the patient and return to the program to develop a treatment plan. PKC Inc., which developed the program, said that the tool could provide more thorough patient information at the onset of care and eliminate the need for some expensive medical treatments. However, some doctors have raised concerns about the time required to use the tool, and others say it would depersonalize care delivery and discount physicians' training. "The implications of [the Problem Knowledge Coupler] are very large and challenge the notion of what a doctor is," PKC CEO Howard Pierce said, adding, "But once the doctor rolls over and accepts [the system], he can go right back to being a doctor. Just a better doctor" (Gaither, Boston Globe, 7/14). For more iHealth & Technology stories, visit iHealthBeat.org, a new Web publication sponsored by the California HealthCare Foundation.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.