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Keywords:

  • Decision Support;
  • Primary Care;
  • Opioid Therapy;
  • Chronic Pain;
  • Usability

Abstract

Objective.  To develop and evaluate a clinical decision support system (CDSS) named Assessment and Treatment in Healthcare: Evidenced-Based Automation (ATHENA)-Opioid Therapy, which encourages safe and effective use of opioid therapy for chronic, noncancer pain.

Design.  CDSS development and iterative evaluation using the analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation process including simulation-based and in-clinic assessments of usability for providers followed by targeted system revisions.

Results.  Volunteers provided detailed feedback to guide improvements in the graphical user interface, and content and design changes to increase clinical usefulness, understandability, clinical workflow fit, and ease of completing guideline recommended practices. Revisions based on feedback increased CDSS usability ratings over time. Practice concerns outside the scope of the CDSS were also identified.

Conclusions.  Usability testing optimized the CDSS to better address barriers such as lack of provider education, confusion in dosing calculations and titration schedules, access to relevant patient information, provider discontinuity, documentation, and access to validated assessment tools. It also highlighted barriers to good clinical practice that are difficult to address with CDSS technology in its current conceptualization. For example, clinicians indicated that constraints on time and competing priorities in primary care, discomfort in patient-provider communications, and lack of evidence to guide opioid prescribing decisions impeded their ability to provide effective, guideline-adherent pain management. Iterative testing was essential for designing a highly usable and acceptable CDSS; however, identified barriers may limit the impact of the ATHENA-Opioid Therapy system and other CDSS on clinical practices and outcomes unless CDSS are paired with parallel initiatives to address these issues.