To assess the effectiveness of a clinical decision support tool consisting of an electronic medical record Best Practice Alert (BPA) on the frequency of lumbar imaging in patients with acute low back pain (LBP) in the ambulatory care setting. To understand why providers order imaging outside of clinical guidelines.We implemented a BPA pop-up alert on 3/23/16 that informed the ordering physician of the Choosing Wisely recommendation to not order imaging within the first 6 weeks of low back pain in the absence of red flags. We measured imaging rates 1 year before and after implementation of the BPA. To override the BPA, providers could ignore the alert or explain their rationale for ordering imaging using either pre-set options or free-text submission. We tracked pre-set options and manually reviewed 125 free-text submissions.Significant decreases in both total imaging rate (9.6% decrease, p = 0.02) and MRI rate (14.9% decrease, p < 0.01) were observed after implementation of the BPA. No change was found in the rates of x-ray or CT ordering. 64% of providers used pre-set options in overriding the BPA, while 36% of providers entered a free-text submission. Among those providers using a free-text submission, 56% entered a non-guideline supported rationale.The present study demonstrates the effectiveness of a simple, low-cost clinical decision support tool in reducing imaging rates for patients with acute low back pain. We additionally identify reasons providers order imaging outside of clinical guidelines.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.wneu.2019.11.031
View details for PubMedID 31733384