Optimizing clinical decision support alerts in electronic medical records: a systematic review of reported strategies adopted by hospitals

Bethany A. Van Dort, Wu Yi Zheng, Vivek Sundar, Melissa T. Baysari

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objective: To identify and summarize the current internal governance processes adopted by hospitals, as reported in the literature, for selecting, optimizing, and evaluating clinical decision support (CDS) alerts in order to identify effective approaches. Materials and methods: Databases (Medline, Embase, CINAHL, Scopus, Web of Science, IEEE Xplore Digital Library, CADTH, and WorldCat) were searched to identify relevant papers published from January 2010 to April 2020. All paper types published in English that reported governance processes for selecting and/or optimizing CDS alerts in hospitals were included. Results: Eight papers were included in the review. Seven papers focused specifically on medication-related CDS alerts. All papers described the use of a multidisciplinary committee to optimize alerts. Other strategies included the use of clinician feedback, alert data, literature and drug references, and a visual dashboard. Six of the 8 papers reported evaluations of their CDS alert modifications following the adoption of optimization strategies, and of these, 5 reported a reduction in alert rate. Conclusions: A multidisciplinary committee, often in combination with other approaches, was the most frequent strategy reported by hospitals to optimize their CDS alerts. Due to the limited number of published processes, variation in system changes, and evaluation results, we were unable to compare the effectiveness of different strategies, although employing multiple strategies appears to be an effective approach for reducing CDS alert numbers. We recommend hospitals report on descriptions and evaluations of governance processes to enable identification of effective strategies for optimization of CDS alerts in hospitals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-183
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2021


  • alert fatigue
  • clinical governance
  • clinical information systems
  • decision support systems
  • electronic medical records


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