Computerizing healthcare is expected to be one of the powerful levers necessary for significant transformation in the quality and cost of delivering healthcare. The spur to transformation, the federal government has incentivized healthcare providers to implement electronic health records (EHRs) and improve outcomes by using this technology in a meaningful way. One of the many benefits of EHRs includes the ability to improve care at the point of delivery with a wide variety of tools collectively known as clinical decision support (CDS).

What is Clinical Decision Support?

Clinical decision support1 is a process for enhancing health-related decisions and actions with pertinent, organized clinical knowledge and patient information to improve health and healthcare delivery. Information recipients can include patients, clinicians and others involved in patient care delivery; information delivered can include general clinical knowledge and guidance, intelligently processed patient data, or a mixture of both; and information delivery formats can be drawn from a rich palette of options that includes data and order entry facilitators, filtered data displays, reference information, alerts, and others.

1 Improving outcomes with clinical decision support: an implementer’s guide. Second Edition. HIMSS. 2011 (in press).

What you'll find in Clinical Decision Support 101

  • Clinical Decision Support 101 - promise and the peril of CDS, activities to help you deliver CDS, information on how to successfully solve some of the problems in your practice, information on how CDS fits into an overall plan for improved outcomes, the importance of strong leadership, plus a downloadable C-Suite level presentation that you can customize to use at your organization.
  • CDS 101: Scenarios - three scenarios that depict examples of CDS.
  • CDS 101: CDS Toolbox - types of tools that are available, including what tools may be most useful for a particular problem, information on potential pitfalls when the wrong tool is selected or does not fit into the clinician’s workflow, and key implementation advice, such as understanding workflow and integrating it with the “CDS Five Rights” to insure the intervention has the best chance of improving the selected outcome.
  • CDS 101: Current Trends and Case Studies - hot topics in health information technology (HIT) involving CDS. As the national HIT landscape evolves, HIMSS will maintain and update the content to keep our members informed.
  • CDS 101: CDS and MU - CDS & Meaningful Use FAQ and resources.
  • CDS 101: Resources - more CDS resources

This page is designed to orient clinicians and implementers to some basics of CDS in the form of CDS 101 and also contains information on more advanced CDS topics relevant to the rapidly changing landscape of healthcare technology. Propelled by both the need to improve healthcare and the EHR incentives provided by the federal government, the knowledge of how to apply CDS, the keys to success and how to overcome the barriers is advancing quickly. In addition to the CDS 101 content, the “Gray Tabs” on the sidebar represent key topic areas which HIMSS will continue to populate and expand in sync with the evolving changes in CDS.

For more information, contact Arnol Simmons at