Failure of Computerized Treatment Suggestions to Improve Health Outcomes of Outpatients with Uncomplicated Hypertension: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial


Regenstrief Institute, Regenstrief Health Center, Sixth Floor, 1050 Wishard Boulevard, Indianapolis, IN 46202–2872; e-mail:


Study Objective. To assess the effects of evidence-based treatment suggestions for hypertension made to physicians and pharmacists using a comprehensive electronic medical record system.

Design. Randomized controlled trial with a 2 times 2 factorial design of physician and pharmacist interventions, which resulted in four groups of patients: physician intervention only, pharmacist intervention only, intervention by physician and pharmacist, and intervention by neither physician nor pharmacist (control).

Setting. Academic primary care internal medicine practice.

Subjects. Seven hundred twelve patients with uncomplicated hypertension.

Measurements and Main Results. Suggestions were displayed to physicians on computer workstations used to write outpatient orders and to pharmacists when filling prescriptions. The primary end point was generic health-related quality of life. Secondary end points were symptom profile and side effects from antihypertensive drugs, number of emergency department visits and hospitalizations, blood pressure measurements, patient satisfaction with physicians and pharmacists, drug therapy compliance, and health care charges. In the control group, implementation of care changes in accordance with treatment suggestions was observed in 26% of patients. In the intervention groups, compliance with suggestions was poor, with treatment suggestions implemented in 25% of patients for whom suggestions were displayed only to pharmacists, 29% of those for whom suggestions were displayed only to physicians, and 35% of the group for whom both physicians and pharmacists received suggestions (p=0.13). Intergroup differences were neither statistically significant nor clinically relevant for generic health-related quality of life, symptom and side-effect profiles, number of emergency department visits and hospitalizations, blood pressure measurements, charges, or drug therapy compliance.

Conclusion. Computer-based intervention using a sophisticated electronic physician order-entry system failed to improve compliance with treatment suggestions or outcomes of patients with uncomplicated hypertension.