Can better tech improve doctor-patient conversations? A case study with CAT scans in the ER

From Yale News:

A Yale-led team of researchers have developed an electronic application tool that puts patients at the center of a decision about an overused medical test: the CAT or CT scan. If it pans out in wider pilot testing, the innovative app could inform the way that health technology tools are developed and used by physicians and patients, said lead author Dr. Ted Melnick.

CT scans are routinely ordered for patients who visit the emergency department with mild head injuries. However, the test is often unnecessary. While many doctors are provided guidance, such as alerts and reminders, to help them make decisions about tests like CT, they don’t always use the tools, which are viewed as burdensome.

To address this problem, Melnick and his co-authors decided to develop a different tool utilizing a process often applied in the tech industry: user experience testing. Instead of introducing a fully developed tool to doctors, they first tested a prototype app with the “end users” — patients, emergency department clinicians, researchers, and designers.

Through several rounds of testing and retooling, they settled on a version of the app they called Concussion or Brain Bleed. Unlike other decision-support tools for doctors, the Concussion app is designed to be used by both doctor and patient. Rather than providing the clinician with an answer or script, the app provides cues and prompts to facilitate doctor-patient communication.

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