You can lead a horse to water: physicians' responses to clinical reminders

Stephen Downs, Vibha Anand, Tammy M. Dugan, Aaron Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Meaningful use of health information technology (HIT) requires the use of clinical decision support systems (CDSS). However, the effectiveness of CDSS depends on physician compliance with clinical reminders which is known to be highly variable. Our objective was to evaluate physician adherence to clinical reminders from a CDSS designed to maximize features known to improve practice.

METHODS: We evaluated physicians' compliance with clinical reminders generated by the Child Health Improvement through Computer Automation (CHICA) system, a pediatric CDSS that generates scannable paper forms that are completed by patients, staff and physicians during routine care. The forms provide tailored reminders and collect coded clinical data during routine care. We examined CHICA's database to assess the rates of response by patients and physicians to questions and reminders generated by the system. Results showed that while patients answered, on average, 60.6% of 1,351,896 questions generated by the system over 5 years, physicians responded to only 42.9% of 343,949 alerts and reminders over the same period of time. Response rates appeared to be inversely related to both the complexity and sensitivity of the topic.

DISCUSSION: Poor physician adherence to clinical reminders in this optimized system reduces effectiveness of the system and poses some liability issues. Strategies to alert physicians to the reminders of highest import are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-171
Number of pages5
JournalAMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings / AMIA Symposium. AMIA Symposium
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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