The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has been asked by the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) to carry out a review of clinical decision support software.

A spokesperson for NICE confirmed to E-Health Insider that a review was in the early stages of planning and development and that the NPfIT requested the review take place. The review will only cover decision support systems that recommend advice on treatment and medication.

Chief executive of NICE, Andrew Dillon, announced the move at this month’s NICE conference: "We have been approached by the NPfIT to develop a new evaluation programme of the safety and efficacy of the decision-support systems being used by the NHS.

“A lot of these systems are not particularly safe, especially where they are offering prescribing information and contraindications where many drugs are being given."

Dr Paul Cundy, chair of the BMA’s General Practitioner Committee’s (GPC) IT Committee, told GP magazine that complex decision support software was used by a minority of GPs, and some had decided to stop using it after a while.

One of the systems under scrutiny will be Isabel, a decision support system used in many hospitals across the UK, including St Mary’s Hospital NHS Trust and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital NHS Trust. Jason Maude, chief executive of Isabel Healthcare, told E-Health Insider he would welcome the opportunity for a review. Because the area of decision support software was relatively new, he said, hospitals needed some guidance.

“Isabel has gone through a robust four year validation process, and therefore we welcome this initiative by NICE. We hope that it will speed up the widespread adoption of decision support systems like Isabel that have been shown to help improve patient care and safety."

Further details of the review, its scope and when it will start are to be announced shortly.