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Default options should be used to improve healthcare
Date:10/4/2007

to be identified. The computerized patient order system, for example, which is used in most U.S. hospitals, should encourage physicians to actively select a specific dose for each medication ordered rather than defaulting to the lowest or the most popular dose. The absence of a default option forces physicians to consider the most appropriate dose for each patient and it should minimize the risks of overdosing or under dosing that these systems may generate.

Not only can health-care outcomes benefit from a thoughtful default strategy, the authors write, they can accrue cost-savings as well. The policy whereby drug prescriptions default to generic medications unless physicians check a brand necessary box promotes the social goal of decreasing health-care expenditures.

Establish clear-cut options when it is a given that some action should be taken. For example, patients who have trouble choosing between the recommended screenings for colon cancercolonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy plus fecal occult-blood testingmay avoid either test. In such cases, a default option to either screening method should ensure that it is done.

In conclusion, the authors state that our current approach to default options in health care has itself been too passive, and opportunities exist throughout the health care system to use these options more strategically.

Enacting policy changes by manipulating default options carries no more risk than ignoring such options that were previously set passively, and it offers far greater opportunities for benefit.


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Contact: Nan Myers
nan.myers@uphs.upenn.edu
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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