The Effects of On-Screen, Point of Care Computer Reminders on Processes and Outcomes of Care
It is known that doctors do not always provide the care that is recommended or according to the latest research. Many strategies have been tried in an attempt to reduce this gap between what is recommended and what is done. A potentially low cost way to do this could be to use computer systems that remind physicians about important information while they make decisions. For example, a doctor could be ordering antibiotics for a child with an ear infection. At that point, the computer the doctor is working on displays a pop up window with a reminder about the evidence for the best dose and length of time the antibiotics should be prescribed. This review found 28 studies that evaluated the effects of different on-screen computer reminders. The studies tested reminders to prescribe specific medications, to warn about drug interactions, to provide vaccinations, or to order tests. The review found small to moderate benefits. The reminders improved physician practices by a median of 4%. In eight of the studies, patients' health improved by a median of 3%. Although some studies showed larger benefits than these median effects, no specific reminders or features of how they worked were consistently associated with these larger benefits. More research is needed to identify what types of reminders work and when.