Episode #66 – Clinical Decision Support as ‘A bright future for healthcare delivery’ with Dr. Scott Weingarten

In 1950, medical information doubled every 50 years.  It’s been estimated that, in 2020, it will take only 73 days for medical knowledge to double!  This is not surprising given that a new biomedical journal article is published every 26 seconds!  It is clear that we will need tools to manage and synthesize all of this data, and that’s where the clinical decision support (CDS) comes in.

Our guest today is Dr. Scott Weingarten.  Dr. Weingarten recently joined Premier Inc., retaining his role as CEO of Stanson Health – a clinical decision support company he founded approximately 6 years ago.  Prior to joining Premier Inc., Scott was the Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Transformation Officer at Cedars-Sinai Hospital.  In addition to his long-standing tenure as a practicing physician and executive, Scott is also a serial entrepreneur and inventor – holding three software patents.  Prior to forming Stanson Health, Scott co-founded Zynx Health, a highly successful leader in ‘order sets’ and ‘care plans’ for electronic health records.

In this interview Scott will share:

  • The demonstrable positive impact of CDS on organizational quality and cost – resulting from marked improvements in appropriate utilization of lab tests, imaging studies and medication prescribing.
  • The sophistication of today’s CDS technology that results in the provision of real-time, patient-specific, evidence-based recommendations.
  • The vast breadth of clinical situations and conditions for which Stanson Health has created evidence-based clinical decision supports.
  • The specific benefits for practicing clinicians: offering providers performance data on how they compare to their colleagues and to evidence-based standards.
  • The highly sophisticated analytic approach Stanson Health takes to streamline and optimize clinical alerts embedded in the electronic medical record – removing a substantial percentage of “low value alerts” – what Scott calls “pruning the tree”.

I went into this interview understanding CDS as a tool to enhance clinical practice – improving providers’ and organizations’ ability to meet quality goals, as well as optimize utilization of tests and treatments.  I came out of this interview believing that CDS is not only a basic necessity if we are going to practice safe, high quality medicine; but, that it’s also one of the most profound technologies shaping medical practice – fundamentally changing the way providers & patients will experience clinical encounters in the future.  

Imagine when a care provider will be able to dialogue with a patient, supported by natural language processing software and sentiment analysis, feeding the artificial intelligence that will be making real-time, evidence-based, customized recommendations for that individual patient.  This reality does not seem that far off, and I suspect Scott and Stanson Health are moving rapidly toward that day.  Imagine how liberating and humanizing that would be – allowing providers and patients to really communicate and engage with one another, with technology aiding that human-to-human interaction rather than interfering with it.  

The take-home point is that Clinical Decision Support is not just about meeting quality metrics or reducing inappropriate testing and prescribing.  CDS is not just about assisting providers in consistently delivering up-to-date, evidence-based medical care.  CDS is not just about reducing unnecessary costs of care.  The purpose of CDS, as I understand it now, is to make healthcare more accessible, affordable, effective, personalized and relationship-oriented.  The highly informed perspective, and the picture that Dr. Scott Weingarten paints for the future of healthcare is, indeed, a bright one.  His is a hopeful and realistic message, and one that is well worth listening to.