IT and Evidence-Based Medicine

Bill Briggs, Working Together: I.T. and Evidence-based Medicine. Health Data Management, Jan 15 2004.

"Until very recently, the most reliable source clinicians had for current best practices was the medical textbook…

"Today…clinicians striving to practice evidence-based medicine gain instant access to a mountain of information on best practices through information technology. And provider organizations are using I.T. to mine their own data and access external clinical evidence-based guidelines from a range of data sources. Their goal is to get current information into the hands of clinicians where they need it most: at the point of care, where patient treatment decisions are made. The payoffs, many experts say, include reduced medical errors, greater operating efficiency and improved patient care. Sooner or later, higher reimbursement levels might be tied to evidence-based medicine as well.

"…Data on best practices and other research is being mined internally and accessed externally via the Internet from many sites. The challenge for provider organizations is how to put global data in context and apply it to the individual patient."

"…Evidence-based medicine requires merging data from external sources along with that of patient-specific data residing locally in multiple information systems, including electronic medical records and computerized physician order entry. All are necessary to feed information on a given situation to hardwired or mobile computers to support clinicians’ decisions at—or near—the point of care."

The article looks at a couple early adopters of evidence-based medicine, including Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  William Stead, M.D., the associate vice chancellor for health affairs and director of the Informatics Center at Vanderbilt is quoted toward the end of the article:  “I don’t think the average physician here or elsewhere really knows when they are following the evidence and when they are not…Nor are they aware of the frequency at which they are not following the evidence. I don’t think Vanderbilt or anyone else is practicing evidence-based medicine to the degree we need to.”

UPDATE: A little back-and-forth on IT and Evidenced-Based Medicine (EBM) over at Matthew Holt.

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