Journal article Open Access

Economic impact of clinical decision support interventions based on electronic health records

Lewkowicz, Daniel; Wohlbrandt, Attila; Böttinger, Erwin


Unnecessary healthcare utilization, non-adherence to current clinical guidelines, or insufficient personalized care are perpetual challenges and remain potential major cost-drivers for healthcare systems around the world. Implementing decision support systems into clinical care is promised to improve quality of care and thereby yield substantial effects on reducing healthcare expenditure. In this article, we evaluate the economic impact of clinical decision support (CDS) interventions based on electronic health records (EHR).


We searched for studies published after 2014 using MEDLINE, CENTRAL, WEB OF SCIENCE, EBSCO, and TUFTS CEA registry databases that encompass an economic evaluation or consider cost outcome measures of EHR based CDS interventions. Thereupon, we identified best practice application areas and categorized the investigated interventions according to an existing taxonomy of front-end CDS tools.

Results and discussion

Twenty-seven studies are investigated in this review. Of those, twenty-two studies indicate a reduction of healthcare expenditure after implementing an EHR based CDS system, especially towards prevalent application areas, such as unnecessary laboratory testing, duplicate order entry, efficient transfusion practice, or reduction of antibiotic prescriptions. On the contrary, order facilitators and undiscovered malfunctions revealed to be threats and could lead to new cost drivers in healthcare. While high upfront and maintenance costs of CDS systems are a worldwide implementation barrier, most studies do not consider implementation cost. Finally, four included economic evaluation studies report mixed monetary outcome results and thus highlight the importance of further high-quality economic evaluations for these CDS systems.


Current research studies lack consideration of comparative cost-outcome metrics as well as detailed cost components in their analyses. Nonetheless, the positive economic impact of EHR based CDS interventions is highly promising, especially with regard to reducing waste in healthcare.

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