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evidence-based medicine

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is an approach to medicine featuring ongoing examination and modification to care, based on careful analysis of current research, science, patient information, doctors’ expertise and other available data sources. The essence of EBM is applying the latest and best available scientific evidence to guide decisions and optimize healthcare for patients.

Although previous medical treatment models were also based on evidence, there was a widespread assumption that busy doctors would stay abreast of new research by reading medical journals. EBM is a targeted, patient-specific approach designed to improve healthcare delivery while also relieving the burden of rushed doctors.

Clinical business intelligence is one tool for EBM which employs the application of data analytics to medical records and research. They help ensure that physicians have the most current and best information available for their patients’ needs.

Clinical data analysts serve as the human backbone for EBM systems, validating studies and both input and output data for clinical business systems. This targeted, validated information helps doctors choose the best treatment options, eliminating the need to examine files and providing accurate, pertinent info that addresses their individual patient’s needs.

Practicing evidence-based medicine is a continuous, doctor-directed, case-by-case process. A patient’s needs prompt the doctor’s requirements for current clinical and diagnostic information. That information guides the doctor in establishing a prognosis, choosing the best therapies and making other treatment-related decisions. EBM does not create a top-down cookbook rigid definition of healthcare practice. Instead, it is a bottom-up approach that incorporates the best current information, a doctor’s clinical expertise and a patient’s individual choice.

EBM, as a practice, emerged in the mid-19th century, but the approach has benefited significantly in recent decades from the digitization of healthcare information systems.

This was last updated in June 2017

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