Clinical Decision Support: What Does It Mean for You?

The following post was written by guest blogger Woojin Kim, MD, assistant professor of radiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Clinical decision support (CDS) is a central component of the Imaging 3.0™ initiative. Use of such systems will be required in 2017 as part of the recently passed “Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014.” But, how many of us really know what the term means as applies to radiology?

When you do a Google search for “clinical decision support radiology,” the results are primarily that of CDS systems designed to ensure appropriate imaging studies are ordered and performed, such as by integrating the ACR Appropriateness Criteria® into CPOE via ACR Select™. However, this is only a portion of CDS.

  • A working definition proposed by Robert Hayward of the Centre for Health Evidence states, “Clinical decision support systems link health observations with health knowledge to influence health choices by clinicians for improved health care.”
  • According to, “CDS encompasses a variety of tools to enhance decision-making in the clinical workflow. These tools include computerized alerts and reminders to care providers and patients; clinical guidelines; condition-specific order sets; focused patient data reports and summaries; documentation templates; diagnostic support, and contextually relevant reference information, among other tools.”

Hence, what radiologists think most often when they hear CDS is a system designed for the ordering clinicians. What about the radiologists? I am organizing a course for ACR 2015 titled, “Clinical Decision Support for Radiologists.” It will address this very concept including opportunities around CDS for radiologists, and how both commercially available tools – as well as ACR-led initiatives like actionable findings and clinical guidelines – can help radiologists and practices generate value through higher-quality reporting and improved efficiency.

Within this course, Dr. Chuck Kahn will give a presentation titled “Decision support systems: An introduction for radiologists.” Dr. Tarik Alkasab will present “Bringing evidence-based standards to the radiologist point of care.” And I will discuss “High-quality reporting and improved efficiency through clinical decision support.”

I invite every radiologist, radiation oncologist and medical physicist to attend ACR 2015 to learn about informatics and other forces shaping our profession. Health care is changing. We can either shape that change or be shaped by it (maybe not to our liking). If you need an informatics fix in the meantime, check out the ACR Imaging Informatics Summit October 29-30, 2014, in Washington, DC.

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