Interrupting providers with clinical decision support to improve care for heart failure

Saul Blecker, Jonathan S. Austrian, Leora I. Horwitz, Gilad Kuperman, Donna Shelley, Meg Ferrauiola, Stuart D. Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Evidence-based therapy for heart failure remains underutilized at hospital discharge, particularly for patients with heart failure who are hospitalized for another cause. We developed clinical decision support (CDS) to recommend an angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor during hospitalization to promote its continuation at discharge. The CDS was designed to be implemented in both interruptive and non-interruptive versions. Objectives: To compare the effectiveness and implementation of interruptive and non-interruptive versions of a CDS to improve care for heart failure. Methods: Hospitalizations of patients with reduced ejection fraction were pseudo-randomized to deliver interruptive or non-interruptive CDS alerts to providers based on even or odd medical record number. We compared discharge utilization of an ACE inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) for these two implementation approaches. We also assessed adoption and implementation fidelity of the CDS. Results: Of 958 hospitalizations, interruptive alert hospitalizations had higher rates of discharge utilization of ACE inhibitors or ARBs than non-interruptive alert hospitalizations (79.6% vs. 74.2%, p = 0.05). Utilization was higher for interruptive alert versus non-interruptive alert hospitalizations which were principally for causes other than heart failure (79.8% vs. 73.4%; p = 0.05) but no difference was observed among hospitalizations with a principal heart failure diagnosis (85.9% vs.81.7%; p = 0.49). As compared to non-interruptive hospitalizations, interruptive alert hospitalizations were more likely to have had: an alert with any response (40.6% vs. 13.1%, p < 0.001), contraindications reported (33.1% vs 11.3%, p < 0.001), and an ACE inhibitor ordered within twelve hours of the alert (17.6% vs 10.3%, p < 0.01). The response rate for the interruptive alert was 1.7%, and a median (25th, 75th percentile) of 14 (5,32) alerts were triggered per hospitalization. Conclusions: A CDS implemented as an interruptive alert was associated with improved quality of care for heart failure. Whether the potential benefits of CDS in improving cardiovascular care were worth the high burden of interruptive alerts deserves further consideration. Identifier: NCT02858674.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103956
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Clinical decision support
  • Comparative effectiveness
  • Heart failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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