On June 8, 2018 the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) hosted a symposium to discuss Clinical Decision Support (CDS) systems and how they could be implemented in Canada. CDS provides referring front-line physicians, such as general practitioners and emergency physicians, access to the latest referral guidelines ensuring the right tests are ordered the first time.
The meeting was a success with over 40 people in attendance. There was participation from various provincial health authorities, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, Choosing Wisely Canada, Canadian Health Infoway, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the CAR Referral Guidelines Working group as well as our corporate partners and some vendors specific to the CDS market. The keynote speaker, Dr. Denis Remedios, representing the Royal College of Radiology, travelled from England to impart his knowledge and experience with CDS systems and delivered an engaging and informative presentation on the current state of diagnostic imaging guidelines and rollout of a singular CDS structure across the UK.
The CAR’s main objective was to receive expert guidance on integrating referral guidelines into CDS.
The discussions that took place and available research on CDS demonstrate that CDS systems will guide more appropriate patient care. More appropriate does not mean less care, it means having the right care provided initially. More appropriate care also means better access to timely care. Timeliness manifests itself not only for the individual but also by decreasing wait-times for Canadians.
The benefits to patients and physicians are clear. Patients receiving appropriate care leads to improved patient outcomes, reduced congestion in hospitals and medical imaging clinics and produces greater value for the system. CDS systems can also empower physicians by offering increased options for diagnostic imaging in helping to treat patients with uncommon cases.
The outcomes for the meeting include the CAR playing a leadership role in facilitating implementation of a comprehensive diagnostic imaging CDS system in Canada. There will be challenges in introducing a singular CDS solution into the Canadian health care market: however, in the coming months the CAR will engage stakeholders in the process to develop a strategy for CDS integration, which can be viable.
Dr. Martin Reed
Chair, Referral Guidelines Working Group