Category:Decision support tools

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Decision support is a commonly used term. Assistance in reaching a decision is more appropriate although mechanical assistance in maintaining that a decision already reached was correct may be exactly what people really want.[1] This GANFYD web site is more accurately termed a decision assistance tool than a decision support tool. In healthcare clinical decision support systems can vary in complexity from an aid such as this wiki to a complex system using advanced mathematics and non-linear transformations on a database to assist a decision in a way that will not be transparent to most clinicians.

Decision support may have several elements, most of them well short of the creation of Frankenstein's monster to take the job away from the human. Along the way is one of the common mistakes, of designing a computer system intended to program humans, rather than to fill in the bits that humans do poorly and leave their minds uncluttered so they can do the thinking.

Making reaching common wrong conclusions harder may be a better target for design than aiming to reach the common right conclusions - a safety net rather than a channel.

A simple form of support is to try to make knowledge available at the right time and place. This is Muir Gray's "15 second knowledge", with the successive layers of deeper, more detailed, or diffusely associated information that are occasionally required. To produce this requires writing hypertext which is almost completely unlike writing large word-processed documents intended to be printed out and filed.

Decision support tools are a way of simplifying and making more accurate decision making and assist in this. Medical apps are an example of stand alone software that increasingly deliver such functionality.

While a support tool that is a clinical reference tool will not be a medical device, tools that have a diagnostic or therapeutic could be and so be subject to regulation.

LogoWarningBox4.pngLinks from this page can not be checked for compliance against medical device law applicable to stand alone software in relevant jurisdictions:
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In Europe a medical algorithm or clinical decision assistance tool implemented in software (eg an app) that serves a therapeutic purpose such as calculating a drug dose, if made generally available or marketed is regarded as a medical device. In house medical devices manufactured by a health organisation and not generally available or marketed are exempt.

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The FDA has consulted on a similar requirement but the outcome has been slightly different and appears to depend upon if a human (however ill qualified to do so) can interpret and is necessary to implement the software output. Closed systems are completely regulated. A draft implementation document was published in August 2016


  1. See the discussion of Way Forward Technologies success in The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul a novel by Douglas Adams


This category has the following 4 subcategories, out of 4 total.





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