Evidence-based Medicine Could Break Through Many Barriers

16. 03. 22
posted by: Evidence Based Medicine
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There are very few times that a doctor or other medical professional truly performs most of their duties on the fly or without much insight and outside knowledge.  The medical community has hundreds of years of experience and evidence to lead them.  More recently, healthcare professionals have been asked and are required to improve the overall quality of care and outcomes, which is a much more fine-tuning of attention than previously expected.  To this end, it is necessary to dig below the surface of everyday care and find where problems lie; to root medical care in evidence-based medicine

 

When we are sick and end up at the doctor’s office or hospital, there is a high-level of expectation that everything will work out for the best; something that has been instilled in us by those in authority.  There is also a high-level of expectation that there will be waiting periods, usually a quick nurse’s visit to get basic vital information, short meeting time with the doctor, and then in most cases out the door with a prescription, or some sort of plan of action.  It isn’t that there is something inherently wrong with this schedule, but more and more it is showing that it is inefficient, sometimes misses important information, and doesn’t always lead to a positive outcome.

 

One of the first culprits of complaint is the wait time.  Obviously, there is going to be some probability of waiting because demands on a physician may be greater at some moments. However, some healthcare organizations have taken it upon themselves to eliminate sitting in a waiting room and have opted for electronic check-ins.  This allows patients to continue with work, school or whatever else is occupying their time up until the last moment, and then send them to the office, clinic or hospital.  Something as simple as not interrupting someone’s day to just sit and wait can play a much bigger role in patient satisfaction.

 "There are three components of evidence-based medicine:
clinical expertise, using medical evidence based on best practices,
and respecting patients' values and preferences."

Dr. John Haughom

Electronic check-in also allows the patient to look over their information (such as name, address, insurance carrier and allergies), and make any necessary changes, rather than diverting time and attention from professional staff, thus making the process more efficient. 

 

Having a healthcare professional record current vitals may still be one of the most effective and accurate method of keeping details.  Some steps in a process cannot be eliminated and there isn’t room for improvement, so must be left how they are unless or until something better is discovered.


Another benefit that has been seen, felt and proven from working with an electronic system that allows communications between patient and physician is the elimination of unnecessary appointments.  Opting for a simple email in which a patient asks a question reduces the amount of dedicated time it would take in-house to visit with that patient.  The doctor still has to answer the question, but that can happen within a matter of a minute or so, and can be done directly onto the patients EHR (electronic health record), which is just the digital form of the old patient files.  This allows the communication to be recorded for future reference and can indicate if there are patterns to a patient’s health history.  In essence, killing many birds with one digital stone.

 

Evidence-based medicine is practiced in many other methods, too.  Due to the amount of data and studies that are being performed on a daily basis, it is impossible for healthcare professionals to read up and know best-practices for medicine, yet being a part of an organization that integrates new and proven knowledge into the care of their patients makes it easier to achieve better outcomes for patients and also to work within the guidelines of being an evidence-based practice. 

 

What this means is that a doctor doesn’t need to read all the information that is being generated by studies, but to utilize the healthcare information system to pull up specific treatments and practices for specific patients.  The information system should hold the actual details, and the doctor can then work off of proven experience, even if it was he or she that had gone through the process of treatment with a previous patient.

 

One of the best ways to provide evidence-based medicine is to use transparency within an organization.  Transparency opens the doors to allow everyone involved to see the process by which everything is happening, but also holds decision-makers with a sense of accountability.  However, when everything is out in the open, the reasoning behind process steps is more easily explainable, justified and gauged against some level of uncertainty.  This doesn’t just apply to the medicine or medical side of care, but also the cost of care.  The financial aspect is always a tricky discussion due to the sheer amount of money spent and invested in the healthcare industry.  Patients and outsiders feel that costs have skyrocketed and cannot be justified.  Healthcare professionals are working with new technology and an inflationary rate of cost.  When both parties are able to understand through transparency workings, acceptance to procedural steps can take place more effectively.

 

Just as medicine has moved from medieval practices to fact- and evidence-based practices shows that healthcare is not linear but flexible.  This doesn’t mean that because one person has proven a theory to be true that not everyone rushes in to accept the new answer.  Evidence-based medicine in only in its infantile stages, with much more to prove and much more to provide.  However, when a science such as healthcare is able to work with verifiable improvements to patient care, the likelihood of more positive outcomes is achieved.