Feasibility study of a clinical decision support system for the management of multimorbid seniors in primary care : study protocol

Care for seniors is complex because patients often have more than one disease, one medication, and one physician. It is a key challenge for primary care physicians to structure the various aspects of each patient’s care, to integrate each patient’s preferences, and to maintain a long-term overview. This article describes the design for the development and feasibility testing of the clinical decision support system (CDSS) eCare*Seniors© which is electronic health record (EHR)-based allowing for a long-term, comprehensive, evidence-based, and patient preference-oriented management of multimorbid seniors.

This mixed-methods study is designed in three steps. First, focus groups and practice observations will be conducted to develop criteria for software design from a physicians’ and practice assistants’ perspective. Second, based on these criteria, a CDSS prototype will be developed. Third, the prototype’s feasibility will be tested by five primary care practices in the care of 30 multimorbid seniors. Primary outcome is the usability of the software measured by the validated system usability scale (SUS) after 3 months. Secondary outcomes are the (a) willingness to routinely use the CDSS, (b) degree of utilization of the CDSS, (c) acceptance of the CDSS, (d) willingness of the physicians to purchase the CDSS, and (e) willingness of the practice assistants to use the CDSS in the long term. These outcomes will be measured using semi-structured interviews and software usage data. If the SUS score reaches ≥70 %, feasibility testing will be judged successful. Otherwise, the CDSS prototype will be refined according to the users’ needs and retested by the physicians and practice assistants until it is fully adapted to their requirements and reaches a usability score ≥70 %.

The study will support the development of a CDSS which is primary care-defined, user-friendly, easy-to-comprehend, workflow-oriented, and comprehensive. The software will assist physicians and practices in their long-term, individualized care for multimorbid seniors.


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