One of the earliest definitions of evidence-based medicine calls it ‘conscientious explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients’. In healthcare, it points to medical decisions that can be made on the basis of the most up-to-date, solid, reliable, scientific evidence. This means the consideration of evidence that is the most recent, best up to this point, modern, up-to-date evidence that is most suited to be used in the present. Being conscientious means doctors and health professionals must be careful and thorough in what they want to do, and be explicit, ie transparent and completely clear. They must also be judicious when it comes to making healthcare decisions, ie use good judgement and common sense. 

Evidence-based Practice Used By Doctors

In the field of healthcare, health professionals use evidence from scientific studies to treat patients based on their needs. They sift through studies that are relevant, strong and applicable to patients and use it keeping in mind the patients’ personal values, needs and beliefs. The reason evidence-based practice is crucial is because research studies show that it leads to better patient outcomes, low costs and greater nurse satisfaction as compared to traditional approaches. Some nurses are inconsistent in the implementation of evidence-based care, as it wasn’t included in their curriculum and some health professionals may lack the skills to access studies through computers. Some describe EBP as a problem solving approach, and some steps can be used to implement it in an effective manner. The steps include cultivating a spirit of inquiry, asking clinical questions in PICOT format, (patient population of interest (P), intervention or area of interest (I), comparison intervention or group (C), outcome (O), and time (T), searching for the best evidence, appraising the evidence, integrating the evidence with clinical expertise and patient preferences and values, evaluate the outcomes of the practice decisions or changes based on evidence and sharing the results to help other practitioners.

How it Helps Doctors

Doctors can achieve improved patient satisfaction, lower costs and improved quality by practicing evidence-based medicine. For instance, an oncologist while treating a cancer patient can use it to assess the strength of evidence as well as risks and benefits of ordering diagnostic tests and treatments. This approach when used with provider’s clinical expertise, helps in the better prediction of treatment methods and whether it is good for the particular case. This can help in the treatment of conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart failure, etc. This approach also leads to better dialogue between patients and providers so that patients can be part of the decision making process and put forth their values and preferences, which can then be used to create the right treatment plan. Some ways in which evidence based medicine adds value to health systems are: it helps doctors use standardized, evidence based protocols that are more current, uses real-time data to make better care decisions, improves accountability, transparency and value, improves quality of healthcare and health outcomes. The five steps of evidence based medicine include the 5 As, ask, acquire, appraise, apply and assess, that can help doctors treat patients effectively. 

Data-driven Medicine and Evidence-based Medicine: The Future?

AI algorithms are able to amass large amounts of data, that can be used to overcome the potential biases of evidence based medicine. Even though evidence based medicine is helpful in determining treatment options for patients, it comes with its own set of biases. Data-driven medicine has the potential to overcome these biases as AI algorithms are increasingly able to discover associations between medical data elements that were not accessible previously. This is also free from cognitive biases that come with human hypotheses, that only observe patterns based on existent data. In the future, data-driven medicine can lead to a shift in how medical discovery is viewed and be a vital part of individualized and personalized treatments.