Starting in medical school, students must learn how to quickly and successfully search through thousands of easily accessible research studies to find which ones will help them to better understand the pathophysiology of a disease and which ones will improve their clinical decision making to better care for their patients. This process becomes more difficult when time constraints increase as a physician progresses through residency and into clinical practice.

Algorithms Improve Accuracy and Efficiency for Diagnosis

Identifying and using medical algorithms can help improve accuracy and efficiency of diagnosis as well as a physician’s knowledge. An internal medicine resident is called to see an admission of a 77 year-old female with atrial-fibrillation, hypertension, and, diabetes mellitus. Reviewing the patient’s chart, the resident assesses the patient’s CHADS2 score for predicting stroke in a patient with atrial fibrillation and then discusses the best plan for management with his attending and team.  Utilizing the algorithms available on along with the pubmed reference, the resident physician can pull up the evidence-based study and use it to educate the medical students and interns on his team. Being able to use a real-world clinical example of their 77 year-old patient helps to bring the research study “to life” and will enable the students and fellow doctors on the team to improve their clinical knowledge base.

Tools to Increase Patient Safety and Reimbursement

Beyond expanding their clinical knowledge base, physicians of all experience levels must now start to prepare themselves for the new payment models being adopted as part of the Affordable Care Act which will pay based on performance and reward value over volume.  With this new accountable care model,  hospitals and physicians now more than ever need to be wary of hospital-acquired infections (HAI) and their associated costs. A 2013 JAMA study found that the top 5 HAIs cost the nation $9.8 billion annually. While patient care has always been paramount, caring for a patient with an HAI was at least previously reimbursed to the hospital. Now, this reimbursement may be gone if it’s determined that the patient contracted an HAI in the hospital. Risk of infection can be mitigated if hospitals and physicians follow patient safety guidelines and standards set up to control the spread of antibiotic resistant organisms. The recent headlines about superbugs causing infections and deaths at UCLA Medical Center and Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles highlights the importance of controlling their spread. Using algorithms, such as recommendations for Controlling Spread of Carbapenemase-Producing Gram Negative Bacteria can help reduce HAI risk while also improving patient care.

By incorporating medical algorithms into clinical practice, physicians can not only improve clinical knowledge and patient safety, they can also reduce costs and increase the likelihood that hospitals will be reimbursed for the care provided to admitted patients. Identifying and utilizing some of the 20,000+ medical algorithms available through can have a positive impact on many aspects of medicine.