Improving healthcare information systems A key to evidence based medicine
Abstract: Delivering good quality care is a complex endeavor that is highly dependent on patient information and medical knowledge. When decisions about the care of a patient are made, they must, as far as possible, be based on research-derived evidence rather than on clinical skills and experience alone. Evidence based medicine (EBM) is the conscientious and judicious use of current best evidence in conjunction with clinical expertise as well as patient values and preferences to guide healthcare decisions. Following the principles of EBM, healthcare practitioners are required to formulate questions based on patients’ current clinical status, medical history, values and preferences, search the literature for answers, evaluate the evidence for its validity and usefulness, and finally apply the information to the patient. Information systems play a crucial role in the practice of evidence based medicine, by allowing healthcare practitioners to access clinical evidence and information about the patients’ health as they formulate their patient-care strategies. However, current information systems solutions are far from this perspective for various reasons. One of these reasons is that existing information systems do not support a seamless flow of patient information along the patient process. Due to interoperability issues, healthcare practitioners cannot easily exchange patient information from one information system to another and from one healthcare practitioner to another. Consequently, vital information that is stored in separate information systems and which could present a clear and complete picture of the patient cannot be easily accessed. All too often, units have to operate without knowledge of the problems addressed by other healthcare practitioners from other units, the services provided, medications prescribed, or preferences expressed in those previous situations. The practice of EBM is further complicated by current information systems that do not support practitioners in their search and evaluation of current evidence in everyday clinical care.Based on a qualitative approach, this work aims to find solutions for how future healthcare information systems can support the practice of EBM. By combining existing research on process orientation, knowledge management and evidence based medicine with empirical data, a number of recommendations have been initiated. These recommendations aim to support healthcare managers, IT–managers and system developers in the development of future healthcare information systems, from a process-oriented and knowledge management perspective. By following these recommendations, it is possible to develop information systems that facilitate the practice of evidence based medicine, and improve patient engagement.
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